TECHNOLOGY

First Loon internet balloon arrives in Kenya's airspace

Loon’s solution works by beaming Internet connectivity from these ground stations to a balloon 20km overhead.

In Summary
  • The balloons are arriving in the Kenyan space just a week following President Uhuru Kenyatta announcement confirming the approval
  • The arrival of the internet balloons is also good news companies and employees who are currently working from home

Kenyans could start enjoying faster internet speed after the first Loon balloon arrived in the country’s airspace, a week after the operators were cleared by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

The balloon christened HBA092, and already above the centre of Kenya’s airspace is expected to be joined by three others expected to arrive in the through Somalia from Seychelles.

‘’Three more balloons including HAA093, HBAL25, and HBAL26 are moving towards the continent near Seychelles,’’ StratoCat, a space monitoring website tweeted. 

 

Loon’s solution works by beaming Internet connectivity from these ground stations to a balloon 20km overhead. 

The signal is then sent across multiple balloons, creating a network of floating cell towers that deliver connectivity directly to a user’s LTE-enabled device below. 

According to StratoCat and Flightradar24, the internet balloon which was launched in Puerto Rico late January is floating toward Ngomeni Settlement in the Eastern part of the country. It was first spotted in Garissa on Monday.

The balloons are arriving in the Kenyan space just a week following President Uhuru Kenyatta's announcement confirming the approval given to Alphabet Company, Google’s parent firm, and Telkom to fly the balloons in the country’s air space.

Uhuru said the deployment of those internet balloons will be vital for the continuity of learning and work disrupted by the outbreak of coronavirus.

Early last month, Kenya closed all learning institutions and announced a raft of strict social distancing measures aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus that has since seen 59 people infected and a single death by the time of going to press.   

 “These balloons will carry 4G base station and have the capacity to provide wider signal coverage, this intervention will enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantage in ICT and innovation in the midst of the current crisis,” Uhuru said. 

 

According to him, the Google loon and Telkom Kenya partnership will allow learners from all corners of the country to continue learning through accessing soft copy learning materials and assignments. 

The arrival of the internet balloons is also good news for companies and employees who are currently working from home. It is expected to help them cut on internet costs.

Last week, a survey by a human resource consulting firm, Corporate Staffing Services, revealed that 65.5 per cent of firms had obeyed the government’s directive to decongest the working environment by allowing employees to work from home.

Even so, a sizable number of 1,830 employees and 258 employers interviewed termed operational logistics as their greatest headache in the new working strategy, with high internet costs topping the list.