As is common with people in this line of business, all the emphasis is on technology, not on business case. Mundane stuff like revenue streams, customer care, etc. are ignored.
Also bad reporting: no one in Sri Lanka has “seen” Internet service over Loon in 2016. But hey, there’s about 40 days left.
Challenges: The balloons need to be as durable as possible—more time up in the stratosphere means greater scale and lower replacement costs—but also as lightweight as possible. More than three years into the project, the longest one balloon has stayed afloat is 187 days. How long might it take for the balloons to reach capability to stay up for a year or multiple years, rather than having to be recycled, rebuilt, and re-deployed so frequently?
Snapshot: Testing started in 2013 in New Zealand and expanded to Australia and Brazil in 2014. 2016 saw the company begin providing internet service in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, as well as begin talks with operators in India. The company plans to establish a ring of 300 balloons around the entire southern hemisphere.