Google's Loon project delivers internet to Kenya - via balloon
22 July, 2018, 03:20 | Author: Sammy Rose
In a collaboration with Telkom Kenya, Loon will provide internet service from high-altitude balloons whose paths across the sky are choreographed to maintain coverage, according to Loon, the newly independent business unit within Alphabet.
Known as Project Loon, the technology was developed by Alphabet's X, the company's innovation lab. It uses high-flying balloons powered by on-board solar panels as Wi-Fi carriers to deliver signals from above.
They were also used by carriers in the United States to provide connectivity to people in Puerto Rico after a hurricane in 2017.
The balloons will be tested in central Kenya, which has been hard to serve because of its mountainous or inaccessible terrain.
The provision of this high speed internet service will make it Alphabet's first commercial deal in Africa.
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"Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies".
"We couldn't be more excited to start our journey in Kenya, and we look forward to working with mobile network partners worldwide to deliver on the promise of Loon", Westgarth said in a blog post. Starting next year, Loon balloons will soar high above the East African nation, sending 4G internet coverage down to its rural and suburban populations.
The balloons themselves are created to float for more than 100 days at a height of 60,000 feet.
Earlier this year, Analysys Mason - a UK-based consultant retained by the Communication Authority of Kenya - had recommended tower sharing between mobile telco operators which will allow customers in some areas in Kenya access mobile services.
The country's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but large parts of rural Kenya are not.
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