Loon balloons are getting ready to take to the skies over Kenya, floating internet connectivity in with them. Google is working with Telkom Kenya, reports VentureBeat.com, in an effort to test this method of internet signal delivery. If all goes well, 4G service will be available at reasonable costs for people living in remote mountain regions.
Despite successful tests in Peru and Puerto Rico, there are telecom carriers who doubt Loon’s ability to deliver adequate service in a cost-effective, profitable manner.
There are indeed drawbacks that do not make the balloons ideal for all situations. Solar power does not make some locations viable. And while the airborne cell towers are an excellent match for remote regions where traditional construction is not practical, positioning them too close to urban areas can cause disruptions.
However, the appeal of establishing a functioning cell network quickly without building and zoning restrictions has attracted a lot of interest. Kenyan aviation authorities are expected to grant approval to the Loon project by the end of the summer, and the industry is watching. “If the results are positive, we would then be potentially interested,” stated Hervé Suquet, chief technology and information officer for Orange Middle East and Africa.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has several other irons in the fire, such as a self-driving car, and is standing behind Loon. Alastair Westgarth, chief executive at Alphabet stated, “With years of technical development, over 35 million kilometers flown, and hundreds of thousands of people connected, we have a big head start and are well positioned to connect a lot of people and seize the opportunities that come with it.”
July 23, 2019