High-altitude balloons to deliver internet access in Kenya

Ruben Fields
July 22, 2018

The balloons float at 60,000 feet (20 km) above the sea level - high over air traffic, wildlife, and weather events.

Kenyans in rural and sparsely populated areas will from next year access high-speed internet through high altitude balloons which act as cell towers.

No solid timeframe for deployment or details of the financial aspect of the deal has been released, but Telkom Kenya will provide the internet signal to be deployed in remote areas using the solar-powered balloons.

Loon did not reveal the deal's financial terms, but Westgarth said that it involves the telecommunications company Telkom Kenya.

"Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies", said Alastair Westgarth, the chief executive of Loon.

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The first commercial deployment for Project Loon - the "balloon-powered internet" being developed by Google parent Alphabet - is headed for Kenya, the USA tech giant said Thursday. Loon's equipment is powered by on-board solar panels. Further, I expect we'll see more of these third world countries jump on this type of service since the infrastructure required is pretty slim.

However, some critics have suggested the partnership will lead to a monopoly in Kenya, dominating the internet market and warning those most affected will be the consumers.

Less than two weeks after being spun off as a standalone business, Alphabet Inc.'s internet balloon company Loon LLC has landed its first paying customer: African mobile provider Telkom Kenya. Keep up the good work you Loons!

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.

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