Kenya readies for more Loon balloons
Telkom Kenya and Google’s Project Loon have confirmed that additional balloons are scheduled to arrive in the East African country within weeks.
The project, established to provide connectivity to under-served areas or those neglected by major telcos and ISPs, initially launched eight balloons into the local airspace.
Now additional balloons are expected to bolster internet connectivity, particularly to offer support as the country fights the COVID-19 pandemic and address the increasing demand for broadband.
Mobile data provider Safaricom said it has witnessed a growing demand for broadband with a 70% jump in usage.
Telkom Kenya also reported a 50% rise in data usage as the country’s lockdown continues.
The underserved areas cut across the breadth of the country and include Machakos, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kitui, Nanyuki, Narok and into Kisii. Nairobi’s environs will also be targeted.
Telkom Kenya said the balloons will be launched in Puerto Rico and will sail over to Kenya’s base station, where they will be launched.
The company released a statement which reads: “Upon arrival, this larger fleet of balloons will continue network integration testing with its local partner, Telkom Kenya, in preparation to begin serving users as quickly as possible. The recently launched balloons are expected to gradually begin arriving above Kenya, in the coming few weeks.”
Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati is hopeful that they will integrate the new balloons with the older ones and complete LTE testing as soon as possible.
Kibati said: “Once the balloons are in place, this new technology will complement Telkom’s ongoing strategy to further widen its network coverage, confirming the telco as Kenya’s preferred data network.”
According to the companies the balloons will travel at an altitude of 20Km above the earth’s stratosphere
The statement continued: “Throughout their journey, the balloons will make hundreds of altitude adjustments, while searching for favourable winds to bring them to Kenya. The route taken by the balloons will vary depending on wind conditions. In some instances, the balloons will fly east across the Atlantic Ocean; in some cases, they will fly west across the Pacific Ocean.”