Loon's internet balloons will be deployed in Kenya's skies from 2019

This will be Loon's first commercial internet balloon deal

This will be Loon’s first commercial deal for in Africa as the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary seeks to offer 4G network coverage to Kenya's rural and suburban populations.

The equipment was developed by Alphabet innovation laboratory, X under the name Project Loon and it has since become a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

"Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies," said Loon CEO Alastair Westgart. "We couldn't be more pleased to start in Kenya."

The balloons float at 60,000 feet above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife and weather.

Low costs

They are powered by an on-board solar panel, to provide broadband coverage to lower population density areas.

The balloons will be tested in Central Kenya, which has been difficult to serve because of its mountainous or inaccessible terrain.

Kenya's ICT ministry has since lauded the move saying it will bring down costs and deepen internet use across all segments of the population.

The country's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but large parts of rural Kenya are not.

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