Alphabet to deploy balloon Internet in Kenya with Telkom in 2019

Joanna Estrada
July 22, 2018

Loon and Telkom plan to launch the internet service next year (although this is subject to regulatory approval) and Telkom's boss Aldo Mareuse explained the telecoms business is committed to rolling out the service as quickly as possible.

The project called "Loon" was developed by Alphabet's X, the company's innovation lab.

A Google-affiliated company has chosen Kenya as the home of its first announced commercial deal for delivering internet access to hard-to-reach areas using high-altitude balloons.

According to the report, this is Alphabet's first commercial deal for Loon in Africa.

The pilot will take place within the general area of central Kenya, some of which has been hard to service, due to mountainous and inaccessible terrain.

Loon is a network of stratospheric balloons created to deliver internet connectivity to rural and remote areas. Telkom Kenya and Loon will determine precise coverage areas in the coming months, though their decisions will require ratification by regulators. The project's balloons had previously been used for non-commercial deployments to deliver coverage in the wake of natural disasters; most a year ago, following flooding in Peru and a hurricane in Puerto Rico. In this case, Telkom Kenya beams wireless internet signals to a Loon balloon, which works as a relay across an area below it.

"Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies", said Loon CEO Alastair Westgart.

These balloons float at 60,000 feet above the sea level which is enough to float above the air traffic, wildlife, and weather events so it won't cause inconvenience. Kenya's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but large parts of rural Kenya are not.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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