Alphabet to deploy balloon Internet in Kenya with Telkom in 2019


This is after Telkom signed an agreement with Google sister company, Loon, which has been testing delivery of 4G/LTE internet through the high-altitude balloons.

The Loon service uses balloons, powered by an on-board solar panel.

"We will work very hard with Loon, to deliver the first commercial mobile service, as quickly as possible, using Loon's balloon-powered Internet in Africa", said Aldo Mareuse, Telkom's CEO. This marks Loons first commercial deal following its spin-off from Alphabet's "moonshot" unit, X. The firm is now an independent business under Alphabet's umbrella, which also includes Google.

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

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

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Google parent Alphabet is to launch internet balloons in Kenya, to provide coverage in rural and remote areas.

These balloons float at 60,000 feet above the sea level which is enough to float above the air traffic, wildlife, and weather events so it won't cause inconvenience. The project's balloons had previously been used for non-commercial deployments to deliver coverage in the wake of natural disasters; most past year, following flooding in Peru and a hurricane in Puerto Rico.

"Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies".

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

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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