Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has announced it has received approval from the Kenyan government to operate balloons in the stratosphere above the East African country. The firm says it will now begin dispatching existing airborne balloons, as well as preparing new ones to launch from its sites in the US, and navigating them to Kenya. Once the balloons have arrived in Kenya in the next few weeks, Loon will conduct the final stages of network integration testing with its local operator partner Telkom Kenya. Following that, the pair will be able to begin providing services to Kenyans.
First announced in Kenya in July 2018, the Loon service will provide extended LTE coverage to unserved and underserved areas of the country, using high altitude balloons operating 20km above sea level. The balloons act as floating cell towers, transmitting a provider’s service directly to a subscriber’s LTE handset below. Initial coverage areas have already been identified, within the larger central area of the country, particularly fairly mountainous and remote areas. Loon and Telkom have also worked with Nokia and Liquid Telecom to install ground stations in Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyeri.
Kenya, Alphabet Inc., Project Loon, Telkom Kenya, Wireless, Broadband, LTE