Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
IT | By Lester Massey

Internet balloons to be deployed in Kenya next year

Internet balloons to be deployed in Kenya next year

Loon became the fourth firm that emerged from Alphabet's X lab project and joined other subsidiaries to become Google's sister company, such as smart-thermostat maker Nest, health-data firm Verily and self-driving vehicle operator Waymo. The project will provide internet signals across a massive area, using solar panels on board to generate power.

As of 2019, internet will be delivered to central Kenya by balloon as part of a commercial deal with Loon, a unit of Google's parent company Alphabet.

The balloon-powered internet will start rolling out next year in the country's central region, which has been hard to serve due to its mountainous terrain -making it an ideal testing ground. They're created to deliver internet connectivity to low density populations, where it's just not financially viable to install traditional underground cabling and other permanent lines to properties.

And it worked! Just a year ago, the project provided more than 250,000 Puerto Ricans with internet service in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Alphabet subsidiary Loon intends to send its giant balloons to Kenya, where they will beam the internet to the country. "We couldn't be more pleased to start in Kenya", said Loon Chief Executive Officer, Alastair Westgarth.

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

The Loon service is an innovative approach to providing extended 4G/LTE coverage to rural and suburban areas with lower population densities, using high altitude balloons operating 20 kilometres (60,000 feet) above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife, and weather events.

With more than 45 million people, Kenya's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but vast swathes of rural Kenya are not covered.

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