Telkom Kenya plans to scale up its current 4G coverage in an effort that’s aimed at mitigating the effects of Loons departure in their long-running partnership. A few days ago, we learnt Alphabet’s plan to shut down Loon, a move that was necessitated because the project proved not to be commercially viable. Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company has had a long-standing relationship with Telkom Kenya through Loon subsidiary that has enabled 4G coverage in remote Kenyan areas that were previously not served by 4G network.
As a response, Telkom Kenya has decided to increase it’s current 4G coverage to take up places that were previously served by Loon. The partnership will expire on March 1, ending 4G coverage in areas covered. Mid last year, Telkom announced availability of balloon powered internet in under-served areas within the country. The project was able to achieve amazing internet speeds, with a reported uplink of 4.74Mbs and a downlink of 18.9Mbs.
The project between Loon and Telkom relied on floating balloons to provide 4G coverage in areas that were not covered by traditional cell towers. The technology worked by beaming internet connectivity from ground stations to floating balloons, the balloons would then relay that signal across a network of other floating balloons, providing internet connectivity on user’s phones on the ground. Speaking on the news, Telkom Kenya’s Chief Executive Mugo Kibati said the telco believed in taking bold decisions such as partnering with like-minded pioneers in innovative technologies like Loon. Mugo further said the mobile service provider would continue with its long-term network expansion across the county, expected to reach its envisioned 80 percent 4G coverage in the country.