Project Loon, an internet-delivery ballon system has announced its first commercial deal. It’s a system that spawned from Alphabet’s Project X division where recent Project X will partner with Telkom Kenya to increase internet connectivity in the country. Public details of the deal are still sparse. There’s no timeframe for deployment, financial details, nor press. BBC notes that Telkom Kenya will provide the signal for internet, and Loon will distribute across the country in remote areas.
The project started in 2011. The idea is that instead of building permanent structures to distribute signals with limited range, balloons with antennas could fly 60,000 feet in the air and follow wind patterns to cover about 2,000 square miles at once. The company has simulated over 30 million kilometers of navigation paths every day to understand how weather conditions will affect the predetermined balloon routes.
Loon’s solar-powered air structures have been improved a lot over time. Project Loon started off with just 3G-levels of connectivity but then provided 4G instead in 2015 across an area as big as Rhode Island. The project was recently toured by Wired as Loon showed off its factory and smoother launch with powerful signals. Testing areas including New Zealand, Central California, Brazil, Peru, and Puerto Rico. Loon works with local governments and provided internet access to over 200,000 people in Puerto Rico after Hurrican Maria.
They plan to improve connectivity for large areas of Kenya currently not covered by mobile providers rather than building structures due to the difficulty of erecting such towers. Some local experts expressed concerns stating that dependency on a foreign company may be an issue. Regardless, Project Loon is an amazing idea coming to reality in the world.
Photo: Project Loon.