Alphabet’s Loon launches solar-powered internet balloons in Kenya

Following a deal with the Kenyan Government, Alphabet Inc has launched the first commercial high-speed internet powered by balloons in Kenya.

The service is jointly run by Loon, a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya, the East African nation’s third largest telecoms operator.

According to Loon, the service which launched Wednesday in remote regions of Kenya’s Rift Valley, will initially cover 50,000 square kilometers in western and central parts of Kenya.

The target, however, is to take a fleet of 35 balloons to the skies above in Eastern African over the coming weeks.

This is a milestone achievement, following years of publicity about the venture, and is expected to provide reliable 4G internet service using the solar-powered balloons.

According to reports, the service has been used by U.S. Telecom operators in the past but not on a commercial level.

“This is a first in many ways: 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,” Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post.



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