Google's Loon to deploy internet balloons in Kenya from 2019 - Tech

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Google's Loon to deploy internet balloons in Kenya from 2019 - Tech

The announcement comes just a week after Loon graduated from Alphabet's secretive "moonshot factory" known as X. This means that it is considered a full-fledged company besides sibling companies including Google and self-driving auto developer Waymo.

The country's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but large parts of rural Kenya are not. Loon's solution works by using hot-air balloons to essentially act as floating cell towers that can beam 4G access to smartphone owners down below.

Telkom Kenya's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Aldo Mareuse said it will work hard with Loon to swiftly "deliver the first commercial mobile service" using the balloon system.

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.

Loon will deploy the balloons in central Kenya, an area that has been challenging to service due to the mountainous and inaccessible terrain, Telkom says.

The balloons float at 60,000 feet above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife and weather. The balloons are created to stay aloft for months at a time, and move by surfing wind channels, predicting speeds and directions so that they can navigate in the direction they need to travel.

Kaluka Wanjala, a Nairobi-based technology blogger, said that delivering connectivity to rural areas "will bring opportunities that we have seen the internet bring to other regions of Kenya".

Loon has been testing a network of balloons, traveling along the edge of space, to expand internet connectivity to underserved areas and disaster zones.

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

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