Google launches balloon-powered internet service in Kenya

Google is providing a 4G wireless broadband service to remote areas of Kenya, using a fleet of balloons.
The firm , Loon – a subsidiary of Google on Tuesday 7 July 2020 officially deployed the new technology in Kenya which seeks to offer a more consistent internet availability.

The balloons are launched from locations in the United States and are being navigated to Kenya using wind currents providing  internet service across more remote areas of Kenya.

Loon’s Kenyan service is offered in partnership with local telecom provider Telkom Kenya, and provides cellular service through their network.

Telkom Kenya’s CEO, Mugo Kibati said in a statement, “The technology will offer connectivity to the many Kenyans who live in remote regions that are underserved or totally unserved, and as such remain disadvantaged.”  

 “The project will use a fleet of 35 or more balloons floating 20 kilometers above ground, in constant motion in the stratosphere, to provide 4G LTE service spanning 50,000 square kilometers across central and western Kenya,” he said.

Made from sheets of polyethylene and each measuring the size of a tennis court, the flight vehicles are sent 11 miles into the air using twin, 90-foot-tall automated machines.

Once in the air, they are in constant motion on the edge of space, hovering on stratospheric winds, where they send internet signals to ground stations and personal devices.

Monitored via software controlled on the ground, the balloons are directed by machine-learning algorithms that have developed their own complex navigational movements.

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

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