Project Loon has been granted permission to deploy its internet balloons over Kenya. These high-flying balloons will use 4G technology to also enable connections in remote areas.
Project Loon says that the Kenyan government has formally authorized the deployment of the balloons in the stratosphere of Kenya. According to the company, this is an important step in its efforts to provide services in the country on a long-term basis. The approval means that a start will be made to send already airborne Loon balloons to Kenya and new balloons will also be launched with Kenya as the final destination.
These balloons fly to Kenya from various locations in the US, using stratospheric winds at 20km altitude. It will take several weeks for the balloons to arrive in the African country. Once at the final destination, tests will first be carried out for the network integration with Telkom Kenya, the Kenyan provider with which Loon concluded a cooperation agreement in July 2018.
The system works by means of a ground station that radiates an internet connection to an overhanging balloon. This balloon, which hangs at a height of 20 km, can then transmit a signal to several other balloons, creating a kind of network of floating transmission towers, as it were. That should lead to a 4g connection for users in the greater central part of Kenya, where it is quite mountainous and many remote areas.
Both companies indicate that they are working as soon as possible to set up the Wage Service in Kenya, partly in view of the global situation surrounding Covid-19. Loon says the crisis surrounding the virus and disease is also affecting the company, but says he is confident it can start services in Kenya in the near future. An important part of the preparations in Kenya have already been completed.
Loon should have started offering 4g connections in Kenya last year, but the country only recently gave its approval. Kenya isn’t the only country on Loon’s radar. The company, part of Alphabet, has already established connections in Puerto Rico. This country was hit by a severe hurricane in 2017.