September 21, 2023

Alphabet Loon Balloons offers its first commercial internet service in Kenya

Alphabet Loon Balloons:Alphabet’s Loon Division, which uses floating balloons to provide the Internet, today launched its first commercial service in Kenya. In a blog post announcing the news, Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said the 4G LTE service will be provided to subscribers in Telkom Kenya through a fleet of approximately 35 balloons, covering an area of approximately 50,000 kilometers. . square in the western and central parts of the country, including its capital, Nairobi.alphabet

It is a significant step for Loon, who started as a month-long project in the X Alphabet division before becoming his own company in 2018. The balloons of company have already ensured internet connection after disasters happened as in Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria or Peru after an earthquake occured in 2019 but never as part of large-scale trading bussiness.


Loon has been testing his balloons in Kenya for several months, and says he has already connected 35,000 unique users to the Internet, “although most of them didn’t realize it.” The company says it reached a 18.9Mbps downlink speed in June, along with 4.74Mbps uplink speed and 19ms latency, and tested a number of services, including email, voice and video calls, web browsing, WhatsApp and YouTube visualization, on their service.

The company’s balloons (or “flying vehicles,” as they call them) move at an altitude of about 20 km, analyzing the weather that will walk in stratospheric winds. Individual balloons can alternate between providing a direct connection to the Internet and acting as a link on the network. The New York Times notes that they remain in the air for more than 100 days before returning to earth. Loon says the goal of his balloons is not to replace satellite connectivity or terrestrial technologies, such as cell towers or fiber optic cables, but to provide a “third layer” of connectivity to help connect more people. Internet around the world.

However, The Times reports that the company has been criticized for launching its balloons in parts of the country that have already developed Internet infrastructure and that some people in the poorest areas of Kenya cannot afford the phones necessary to connect to the service. it’s 4G.

Going forward, Loon says he hopes to provide Internet connectivity as part of more business services worldwide. It also has several other projects pending. This year it intends to provide Internet access to remote parts of the Amazon through a partnership with Internet Para Todos Peru and has also signed an agreement with Telesat to use its network software to manage Earth’s orbital satellites. Withdrawal from the company. Finally, it partnered with AT&T to use its balloons to provide Internet services to disaster-affected areas and Vodacom to provide the Internet to Mozambique.

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