Ambitious alternatives have bitten the dust.
Last week, Google scrapped its Loon company, set up nine years ago to beam the internet down to rural areas via a network of large balloons but unable to "build a long-term, sustainable business".
And Facebook abandoned Aquila, its flying-internet project using drones, in 2018.
But satellite-based services, such as Elon Musk's Starlink, are taking off - in every sense.
Large, relatively low-flying satellite networks have the potential to bring the internet to rural areas and "notspots" anywhere in the world.