Citizens living in remote areas of Kenya will soon gain access to the World Wide Web thanks to a collaboration between Loon, a unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Telkom Kenya and fleet of high-altitude ‘internet balloons’.
The balloons are part of the Loon project which involves a network of balloons travelling around 20km above the earth’s surface, delivering internet access to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world.
According to a statement by Loon, the company will use a fleet of around 35 or more separate flight vehicles that will be in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa to provide 4G LTE service spanning a vast 50,000 square kilometers across central and western Kenya. The balloons themselves are made using polyethylene sheets and are roughly about the size of a tennis court.
The balloons will be initially launched in the USA before being navigated to Kenya using wind currents, according to CNN.
”The Internet-enabled balloons will be able to offer connectivity to the many Kenyans who live in remote regions that are underserved or totally unserved, and as such remain disadvantaged.” Said Telkom Kenya’s Chief Executive Officer, Mugo KIBATI
”This new technology will also complement Telkom’s ongoing strategy to further widen our network coverage, enabling us realise our brand promise; to be Kenya’s preferred data network.” Mugo KIBATI added.
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The balloons had previously only been used in emergency situations where cellular towers had been knocked out, such as in Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria hit.
Take a look at how these hi-tech balloons provide internet access below: