Telkom Kenya and Alphabet owned Loon have announced a successful deployment of mobile internet via Loon technology in Kenya. This comes after several months of testing where the approach intended to bring onboard several Kenyans in underserved areas to the 4G mobile internet using floating balloons that have since been deployed in several parts of Kenyan airspace. Telkom particularly points out how the mission poses a major breakthrough as is expects to complete the remaining bits including network integration in the coming months.
The Loon project which became operations in July 2020, has since managed to achieve impressive speeds using the technology that saw an uplink of 4.74 mbs and a downlink of 18.9 mbs. For that speed, the service was usable for most web applications such as sending emails, browsing the internet, making data-based voice calls such as WhatsApp calls, video calls and playing YouTube.
While the initiative brings a major milestone in deploying 4G connectivity across the country and is equipped with necessary technologies to keep the balloons in the airspace, there are still unavoidable impediments that could hinder proper service delivery to users. Wind patters and restricted airspaces could at times result in intermittent service availability. However, since this is only but the initial stages, as time goes by, we expect the Loon technology to anticipate such hinderances and potentially limit its effects to service delivery.
More balloons are expected to be deployed in various parts of the country potentially mitigating any perceived loss of service due to other factors and more so users are expected to gain service only during daytime – from 6:00am to 9:00pm since Loon is solar powered and will only work when there’s sunlight. Remote areas expected to be covered include Iten, Eldoret, Baringo, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Bomet, Kericho and Narok.
While speaking on the progress, Telkom Kenya’s Chief Executive Officer, Mugo KIBATI, said the development was an exciting milestone for Internet service provision in Africa and the world, more so that the service will pioneer in Kenya. Mugo further said being a purely data service and with the continued migration of communication towards data-supported platforms, the Internet-enabled balloons will be able to offer connectivity to many Kenyans who live in remote regions that are underserved or totally unserved, and as such remain disadvantaged.