(Ecofin Agency) - The subsidiary of U.S. company Alphabet -Loon- has officially launched its balloon-powered internet service in Kenya. This is good news for the populations living in rural areas where access to internet services can be very difficult. The service is offered under a partnership signed in July 2018 with the local telecom operator Telkom.
“In Kenya, our initial service region spans nearly 50,000 square kilometers across the western and central parts of the country, including the areas of Iten, Eldoret, Baringo, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Bomet, Kericho, and Narok,” explained Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon.
“To cover this area, we’ll utilize a fleet of around 35 or more separate flight vehicles that are in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa. As we continue to add balloons to achieve this target fleet size in the coming weeks, service availability will become more consistent,” he added. The manager said the last test conducted in June 2020 before the launching of the service recorded “18.9 Mbps download and 4.74 Mbps upload speed with 19-millisecond latency.”
According to him, the project is “the first non-emergency use of Loon to provide connectivity on a large-scale basis, the first application of balloon-powered internet in Africa, and the first of what will be many commercial deployments around the world.”