Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc and one of Google's "moonshot" projects, is using a fleet of what will eventually be more than 35 balloons to provide a 4G wireless broadband service to Telkom Kenya subscribers across the country.
The firm began deployment on Tuesday 7 July 2020 and will continue to add balloons to achieve its target fleet size in the next few weeks, in order to offer a more consistent internet availability.
The service will span nearly 31,000 square miles across western and central parts of Kenya, including its capital, Nairobi, and the areas of Iten, Eldoret, Baringo, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Bomet, Kericho and Narok.
Made from sheets of polyethylene and each measuring the size of a tennis court, the flight vehicles are sent 11 miles into the air using twin, 90-foot-tall automated machines.
Once in the air, they are in constant motion on the edge of space, hovering on stratospheric winds, where they send internet signals to ground stations and personal devices.
Monitored via software controlled on the ground, the balloons are directed by machine-learning algorithms that have developed their own complex navigational movements.
The balloons are billed by the company as a more cost-effective way of expanding phone companies' coverage in certain areas, instead of laying cables or building cell towers.
Source: Natashah Hitti