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Loon internet balloons receive approval to fly in Kenya

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STAR 23 MAR 2020

Loon and Telkom Kenya have announced receipt of all regulatory and Cabinet approvals to begin flying internet balloons in Kenya.

The Loon service will seek to use its 4G LTE internet solution to connect unserved and under-served communities in Kenya.

The balloons will be dispatched from Loon’s sites in the United States.

“This intervention will enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantages in ICT and innovation in the midst of the current crisis while at the same time laying the foundations for greater expansion once the current health challenge is contained,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

Telkom and Loon will thereafter work to expedite service deployment, progressively to other areas, to support the Kenya Government’s efforts to address and manage the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

It is also envisaged that the Loon service will work to have targeted communities connected to emergency services, as well as ensure enhanced and alternative communication options between loved ones, whether in isolation or in quarantine.

“Together with Telkom we will also work in close collaboration with the Communications Authority of Kenya, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and others to usher in Africa’s first-ever deployment of this innovative solution,” Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said.

Loon and Telkom have also worked with Nokia and Liquid Telecom to install ground stations in Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyeri.

“Telkom remains focused on bringing innovative products and solutions to the Kenyan market,” Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati said.

Loon’s solution works by beaming internet connectivity from ground stations to a balloon 20 kilometres overhead.

From there, a signal can be sent across multiple balloons, creating a network of floating cell towers that deliver connectivity directly to a user’s LTE-enabled device below.

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