[H]ardOCP: Alphabet to Deploy Balloon Internet in Kenya With Telkom in 2019

Google to deliver internet in Kenya using balloons

In 2013, Google unveiled Project Loon, a plan to send a fleet of balloons into the stratosphere that could then beam internet service back down to people on Earth.

Loon, which became an independent company last week, began as a project at X - Alphabet's research-and-development facility - in 2016. It uses high-flying balloons powered by on-board solar panels as Wi-Fi carriers to deliver signals from above.

The system will cover both suburban and rural areas - financial details of the deal with Telkom Kenya were not disclosed.

Alphabet's Loon has partnered with Telkom Kenya for its first commercial agreement in Africa.

The balloon-powered internet will start rolling out next year in the country's central region, which has been hard to serve due to its mountainous terrain -making it an ideal testing ground.

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The technology was used by USA telecom operators to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico after a hurricane past year.

Loon's balloons will float 60,000 feet (18 km) above sea level, much higher than any passenger plane, which fly at only 30,000 feet (9 km). They're created to deliver internet connectivity to low density populations, where it's just not financially viable to install traditional underground cabling and other permanent lines to properties.

"Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies", said Loon CEO Alastair Westgart. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.

The country's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but large parts of rural Kenya are not.

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