Google's internet balloons now in Kenyan airspace

Loon’s technology targets people living in rural areas without sufficient ground stations or fibre Internet connections. PHOTO | GOOGLE MAPS

What you need to know:

  • Google’s affiliate company Loon and telecommunications firm Telkom secured approvals to launch balloon-powered Internet on Telkom’s network.

Google's Loon internet balloons have finally gone airborne in the Kenyan space ten days after the government authorised the tech-giant and Telkom to deploy the balloons.

Data from Flight Radar shows that the two balloons (HBAL092 and HBAL125) are currently airborne in Migori and Homabay area over 60,000 feet.

The balloons were launched in Nakuru and have since travelled though Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado, Garissa and Tana River counties.

But it is not clear whether the balloons were on a test flight or are already connecting Kenyans with high speed 4G internet services.

Last week, President Kenyatta announced that the government is working with Google Loon to help Kenyans in remote areas access internet services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“My administration has granted approvals that will ensure universal 4G data coverage is available throughout the country,” he said. “Google Loon, in partnership with Telkom Kenya, will help Kenyans access high speed 4G internet services. This will keep Kenyans connected to emergency services wherever they are.”

The Loon project now boasts of three base stations in Nairobi, Nyeri and Nakuru, which will offer support to the balloon access to an internet signal. The three stations were identified because of their robust internet and data services.

From these base stations, the signals are beamed to a balloon overhead, which is then transmitted across multiple other balloons extending internet coverage to areas far away from the base station, and which have poor network connectivity.

Google Loon is a project that uses balloons to extend connectivity to the many people around the world who have no internet access.

It is a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space delivering connectivity to people in unserved and under-served communities.