Loon recently became an independent Alphabet subsidiary

Isaac Cain
July 22, 2018

"The company began its journey as 'Project Loon" way back in 2011 as part of Google X - the company's moonshot idea incubator.

With more than 45 million people, Kenya's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but vast swathes of rural Kenya are not covered.

The tennis-court-sized balloon is made from polyethylene, filled with helium and powered by a solar panel.

A week after becoming an actual business, Alphabet's Loon struck its first commercial deal, which will involve serving smartphone users in central Kenya.

Less than two weeks after being spun off as a standalone business, Alphabet Inc.'s internet balloon company Loon LLC has landed its first paying customer: African mobile provider Telkom Kenya.

Each balloon carries an antenna, which relays internet signals transmitted from the ground, extending coverage over an area of 5,000sq km.

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Telkom Kenya is the third biggest operator in the country behind market leader Safaricom and Bharti Airtel's Kenyan unit.

"With this association with Loon, we will be partnering with a pioneer in the use of high altitude balloons to provide LTE coverage across larger areas in Kenya". The balloons are created to stay aloft for months at a time, and move by surfing wind channels, predicting speeds and directions so that they can navigate in the direction they need to travel.

"That only leaves the kinds of technology that Loon and other fully wireless solutions provide".

Alastair Westgarth, Chief Executive of Loon told Reuters that, "Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies".

Loon is a network of stratospheric balloons created to deliver internet connectivity to rural and remote areas. In Africa, 1GB of data now costs an average of 18% of monthly income.

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