- Tram Ho
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has officially provided a high-speed internet commerce service using balloons to villagers in remote areas of the Rift Valley, Kenya, Reuters reported.
The service is run by Loon – an affiliated unit of Alphabet – combined with Telkom Kenya, the third largest telecommunications corporation in East Africa.
“Kenya is the first country in the world to have internet transceiver stations in the sky. Now we can expand to the whole territory in a very short time, ”said Joe Mucheru, Kenya Minister of Information during the launch ceremony.
Previously, this technology was used but not for commercial purposes. It was in 2017 that American telecommunications corporations used balloons to connect with about 250,000 isolated Puerto Rican after the historic hurricane Maria.
Alphabet has spent more than 10 years researching and developing this technology and now, people living in remote areas of the Kenyan forest are able to use the internet via 4G connectivity at affordable prices.
“We are effectively building the next corner of the global mobile network. Now we are like a mobile tower at a height of 20 km, ”said Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon.
These base stations can cover a much larger area, about 100 times the size of a traditional cell phone signal tower, according to Westgarth. These are big balloons, powered by batteries and solar panels, that float above the atmosphere, out of the influence of the weather.
They are launched from Loon’s facilities in California and Puerto Rico, controlled by computers located at Silicon Valley flight stations, using helium and pressure to move.
They also have software installed with artificial intelligence to automatically navigate without human intervention.
Before the service, people in the Rift Valley would have to travel about 60 km to the nearest town to use the internet.
Now, they can sell agricultural products and crafts online, talking with relatives abroad easily.
According to Wesgarth, Loon has planned to deploy in Mozambique, and more and more countries are showing interest because after the Covid-19 pandemic, people seem to have to rely more on the internet.
Details of the trade agreement between Loon and Telkom Kenya are currently not publicly available.
Source : Genk