Loon, the company that plans to bring balloon-powered internet to Kenya in partnership with Telkom Kenya, has announced that it has received all the regulatory and cabinet approvals to start flying its balloons in Kenya.
Loon’s third ground station was set up in Kenya back in 2019 and the company was expected o start operations in mid 2019 but that never happened. It might be that the company was not ready or just that the approvals were not it back then.
With the approvals in, the balloons will be dispatched from its sites in the United States and should arrive in Kenya in the coming weeks.
Once the balloons arrive in Kenya, Loon and Telkom will be able to conduct the final stages of network integration testing, required to begin serving Kenyans.
How Loon Works
Loon works by beaming an Internet signal from these ground stations to a balloon 20km overhead. That signal can then travel across multiple balloons and long distances, allowing Loon to provide service far from where the ground station is located. In this way, Loon can reach underserved areas that have little or no connectivity.
The Loon service provides extended 4G/LTE coverage to rural and suburban areas with lower population densities. The balloons act as floating cell towers, transmitting a provider’s service – in this case Telkom’s service – directly to a subscriber’s existing 4G/LTE phone below. Loon’s equipment is powered by on-board solar panels, eliminating reliance on power infrastructure that is often lacking in rural or remote areas. The lack of such power infrastructure can be an impediment to setting up ground-based towers in such areas.
Loon and Telkom are working to enable more Kenyans to access the Internet via their mobile phones. With this new technology, Kenya will be a pioneer in extending the Internet to people who are not able to get reliable connections.