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

Loon, Alphabet’s Wi-Fi beaming balloons, will float through the Kenyan skies in 2019.


James Martin/Techhnews

Alphabet’s Loon announced Thursday that its balloons will bring internet to remote parts of Kenya next year.

This will be the project’s first deal in Africa, Reuters reports, and will see it working with Telkom Kenya to get high-speed internet to the East African country’s rural and suburban populations.

Loon only became its own company last week — having started in 2016 as a project at X, Google parent Alphabet’s research-and-development facility. It uses high-flying balloons powered by on-board solar panels as Wi-Fi carriers to deliver signals from above.

The balloons float at 60,000 feet (20 km) above the sea level — high over air traffic, wildlife, and weather events.


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“Loon’s mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies,” said Loon CEO Alastair Westgart. “We couldn’t be more pleased to start in Kenya.”

The balloons will be deployed in central Kenya, which Telkom says has been challenging to service due to mountainous and inaccessible terrain.

“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.

Last year, Alphabet teamed up with AT&T to bring limited internet access to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

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