Alphabet, parent company of Google says it will be delivering internet to Kenyans using its system of balloons.
The project will launch in 2019 and is to be supported by Telkom Kenya. It will cover rural and suburban populations.
The provision of this high speed internet service will make it Alphabet’s first commercial deal in Africa.
The Loon technology
The project called ‘Loon’ was developed by Alphabet’s X, the company’s innovation lab.
The Loon service uses balloons, powered by an on-board solar panel. This provides fourth generation (4G) coverage to areas with lower population densities.
Previously this technology was used by U.S. telecom operators to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico last year.
Alastair Westgarth, the chief executive of Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet says “Loon’s mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies”.
Kenya is hoping the technology can help achieve full Internet coverage of its population.
Aldo Mareuse, the chief executive of Telkom says “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”.
Telkom Kenya is the third biggest operator in Kenya.