Alphabet’s Internet Balloon Project Approved to Enhance Universal 4G Data Coverage in Kenya

More Loon Internet Balloons Dispatched to Kenya

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has finally signed an agreement with Loon, a project by Alphabet, Google’s parent company to use balloons to enable universal 4G data coverage in the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday said the approval and licensing of theGoogle Loon Service will enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantages in ICT and innovation.

“It will allow Kenya to lay foundations for greater expansion ones the virus is contained,” he said.

“Additionally, this development will also enable Telkom Kenya Ltd (TKL) and Google Loon to start the commercial rollout of a 4G data network in the country as soon as the balloons are available on the Kenyan airspace. Therefore, all Kenyans, wherever they are in our Country, will enjoy access to high-speed and affordable internet services.”

Loon’s deployment in Kenya has been in the works since Alphabet signed a contract with Telkom Kenya in July 2018. The two companies have been testing this service for the last two years.

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What is Loon

Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, delivering connectivity to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world. 

Loon’s solution works by beaming Internet connectivity from these ground stations to a balloon 20km overhead. 

From there, the signal can be sent across multiple balloons, creating a network of floating cell towers that deliver connectivity directly to a user’s LTE-enabled device below.

How It Works

High-speed internet is transmitted up to the nearest balloon from the telecommunications partner (in this case, Telkom) on the ground, relayed across the balloon network, and then back down to users on the ground.

Communications Authority (CA) approved the project in 2018. 

“The Authority granted the requisite approvals to the two entities for deployment of Internet services using Loon’s Balloon powered technology on a trial basis. We encourage other industry players to leverage on new and emerging technologies to roll out ICT services, particularly in remote and rural parts of the country,’’ said Francis Wangusi, Director General, CA now retired.