Monday, 19 November, 2018

Alphabet to deploy Loon internet balloons in Kenya's skies in 2019

Alphabet to deploy Loon internet balloons in Kenya's skies in 2019 Alphabet to deploy Loon internet balloons in Kenya's skies in 2019
Emmett Howard | 22 July, 2018, 03:23

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 technology known as Project Loon was developed by the company's innovation lab Alphabet's X. past year the technology was used by USA telecom operators to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico. Loon's equipment is powered by on-board solar panels.

Google's sister-company Loon announced Thursday it would deploy its system of balloons to beam high-speed internet with Telkom Kenya from 2019.

They were also used by carriers in the United States to provide connectivity to people in Puerto Rico after a hurricane in 2017.

The pilot project will focus on central Kenya, which the operator stated is a challenging area to cover due to mountainous and inaccessible terrain.

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Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said it is a big step for the startup that had just "graduated" from Alphabet's Project Loon at its innovative incubator of X lab last week, to embark on Loon's first commercial engagement in Africa.

Loon did not reveal the deal's financial terms, but Westgarth said that it involves the telecommunications company Telkom Kenya. "We couldn't be more pleased to start in Kenya".

The balloons are solar-powered, allowing them to remain aloft for upwards of 100 days and reside at 60,000 feet, well above commercial air traffic, providing coverage to an area of 5,000 square kilometers, or 3,106 square miles.

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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