Hot air balloons provide Internet access in Kenya, Loon

Hot air balloons provide Internet access in Kenya, Loon’s first commercial project in action


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Natalia Solovieva | 07/18/2020

Hot air balloons provide Internet access in Kenya, Loon's first commercial project in action

Loon LLC (a subsidiary of Alphabet Holding) has begun commercial operation of its Internet project in the Republic of Kenya. In a joint project with a local ISP, the role
cell towers were taken over by high-altitude balloons.

Loon LLC’s stated mission is to provide Internet access to residents of rural areas and remote regions, using high-altitude balloons that drift in the stratosphere at altitude.
about 18 km. This technical solution makes it possible to create a wireless network with Internet access speeds comparable to those in 4G and LTE networks.

To connect users, an upgraded WiFi router is used, while subscribers must use special directional antennas for communication with stratospheric balloons, which is possible within a radius of up to
40 km from him.

The project, launched by Loon in Kenya in conjunction with local telecom provider Telkom Kenya, is the company’s first large-scale commercial offer. Within its framework, cellular
communication is supposed to provide an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 50,000 square kilometers, which does not have reliable cellular communications due to the fact that the creation of terrestrial infrastructure in mountainous areas is very
difficult and costly.

According to the company, it has been working on the implementation of this project since the signing of the deal in 2019.However, since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s management believes
the mission has become especially important: reliable communication, especially against the background of travel restrictions, makes it possible to remotely contact doctors, family members and others.

Loon actually began testing its service at the beginning of the year, and many clients connected to the network without even knowing about it. During the pilot, the company served over 35,000 clients.

The fleet of Loon LLC includes about 35 units of stratospheric balloons. The average speed of the Internet connection they provide is about 18.9 Mbps when receiving data and 4.74 Mbps when receiving data.
transmission, with a delay of 19 milliseconds. These metrics, as tested, will support voice and video calls, YouTube streaming, WhatsApp and
much more.

To date, Loon LLC has also used its balloons to provide emergency assistance during natural disasters. For example, in Puerto Rico, hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Satellite Internet

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