High-altitude balloons will now deliver internet access to remote locations in Kenya as the country has been chosen as the home to a Google-affiliated firm’s first announced commercial deal. In 2019, the country will receive access to 4G/LTE cellular network as Loon shares office with Telkom Kenya. Central Kenya is the place where Loon’s high-altitude balloons will be tested. Its inaccessible or mountainous terrain makes it difficult for service providers to operate. Such balloons are already in place in Puerto Rico and Peru for emergencies. They have aided regions ruined by hurricanes and floods.
Announcement Comes Just a Week after Loon Graduated from X
One of Google’s primary goals since a project launch in 2013 is connecting everyone on the planet to the internet. While the company’s ambition could make internet universally accessible, it will increase the number of people using its ad-supported services. The announcement about the commercial deal for making hard-to-reach areas accessible to internet came a week after Loon graduated from X, the secretive moonshot factory of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to Alastair Westgarth, Loon CEO, the parent company signifies a telling milestone of the journey that began in 2013 when a sheep farmer in New Zealand became the first to connect to Loon’s test balloons.
A similar effort has been made by Facebook where solar-powered drones are used to deliver internet. While the previous test flight resulted in a crash, the next one was successfully completed over Arizona last year. However, the company made it clear that it would support other high-altitude connectivity initiatives instead of making its own aircraft.