A Google-backed project to carry internet connectivity to rural areas around the world is ready to launch its first service in Kenya.
The project is headed by Loon, which is owned by Google’s parent firm, Alphabet. Massive balloons carry solar-powered equipment high within the sky to send high-speed internet signals to the ground.
Loon officials instructed the Reuters news service that its balloons are anticipated to reach Kenya within the coming weeks.
Loon started testing the system in 2011, but this is the corporate’s first market test.
The project includes Telkom Kenya, the country’s third-largest telecommunications firm. The service will sell 4G internet service to individuals living in a rural, mountainous area. Kenyan transportation officials mentioned they expect to give final approval to the project this month.
Loon aims to convey high-velocity internet connectivity to locations where populations are “unserved or underserved.” The sky-based system can deploy to areas where there are too few individuals to support the constructing of signal equipment on the ground.
The balloons that lift the equipment are about 24 meters tall and eight meters wide, Loon says in a description on its website. It’s made of a plastic material that’s built to last at least 100 days.
The balloons are filled with gas that’s lighter than air and rise as much as 20 kilometers into the sky – a peak twice as excessive as airplanes fly. This helps the balloons avoid climate problems and wildlife.
Alastair Westgarth heads Loon. He says that, along with Telkom Kenya, several other telecommunications firms are near signing deals with the corporate. He didn’t provide details.