Jul 7, 2020 - Technology

Alphabet's Loon launches balloon-based internet service in Kenya

A Loon balloon flies over a mountain range
Courtesy: Loon

Loon, the balloon-based telecom subsidiary from Google parent Alphabet, is working with Telkom Kenya to provide internet service over a 50,000-square-kilometer region in western and central Kenya, a region that has been hard to cover using traditional approaches given its terrain and low population density. 

The big picture: The project marks the first large-scale, non-emergency deployment of Loon's service anywhere, as well as the first use of Loon's technology in Africa. It will also serve as an early test of the Loon service's commercial viability.

Details: Loon will deploy around three dozen separate flight vehicles that will remain in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa.

  • In field testing, Loon said the service was used for voice and video calling as well as for browsing, e-mail, messaging and YouTube, with an uplink speed of 4.74 Mpbs, a downlink speed of 18.9 Mbps, and latency of 19 milliseconds.

Go deeper: Loon helps restore internet access in Peru

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