Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has approved the Loon Project by Google and Telkom Kenya to provide internet to Kenyans countrywide as they work from home during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Loon Project, aims to provide internet connectivity to areas that are typically underserved, using high-altitude balloons with solar-powered cellular network gear on board, replacing the need for permanent tower infrastructure in environments where that option is either not practical or unaffordable.
The project had earlier received approval from the Communications Authority but the implementation had been delayed. Furthermore, Google opened a ground station in Nyeri last year in preparation for the commercial launch.
More importantly, the approval means that Telkom Kenya and Google can now continue with the commercial roll-out of the project that will go a long way in helping Kenya attain universal 4G coverage.
Loon is a project by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. It was launched in 2011, with the aim to bring connectivity to remote parts of the world by floating solar-powered networking gear over areas where cell towers would be too expensive to build. Loon has successfully been deployed in Peru and Puerto Rico, allowing cell networks to use balloons for free to supplant cell phone towers downed by natural disasters.