Telkom enters agreement with Loon to increase 4G coverage

Telkom Kenya has signed an agreement with Loon LLC, a subsidiary of US tech firm Alphabet to pilot a new high-speed Internet access network in Kenya. The new network service will be Loon’s first commercial service in Africa.

The Loon service is an innovative approach to providing extended 4G/LTE coverage to rural and suburban areas with lower population densities, using high altitude balloons operating 20km (60,000 feet) above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife, and weather events. The balloons act as cell towers that transmit service directly to the user’s phone. The service supports data speeds that are up to 10 times faster than the current 3G networks. The project is also friendly to the environment as the equipment is powered by on-board solar panels.

Telkom Kenya’s CEO Aldo Mareuse said that the company is focused on bringing innovative products and solutions to the Kenyan market.

“With this association with Loon, we will be partnering with a pioneer in the use of high altitude balloons to provide LTE coverage across larger areas in Kenya. We will work hard with Loon, to deliver the first commercial mobile service, as quickly as possible, using Loon’s balloon-powered Internet in Africa,” he said.

Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said that the project is in line with their mission to connect more people all over the world. He said they are excited to partner with Telkom for their first engagement in Africa.

The project is expected to be deployed to the general public come 2019. However, the technology is to be piloted and tested further in Central Kenya whereby the internet service has been a challenge thanks to the mountainous and inaccessible terrain.

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