Kenya has signed an agreement to allow Google Loon balloons to access the Kenya airspace to enhance 4G network coverage. This is to enable Kenyans access internet as they work from home during Coronavirus crisis.
Announcing the partnership between Google Loan and Telkom Kenya that has enabled this, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the plan is also aimed at helping Kenya provide e-learning for millions of students who are on forced holiday over the COVID 19 crisis.
Once the balloons arrive in Kenya, Loon in a statement said together with Telkom, they will be able to conduct the final stages of network integration testing, required to begin serving Kenyans.
Given the situation with the COVID-19 virus and the need for enhanced connectivity, Loon and Telkom are working as quickly as possible, given the limitations resulting from the worldwide pandemic. Loon and Telkom have also worked with Nokia, and Liquid Telecom to install ground stations in Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyeri.
The Loon service has been previously used in disaster emergency response, in collaboration with the Governments of Peru and Puerto Rico. The learnings from these two assignments would be crucial to helping address some of the connectivity challenges that may be presented by COVID-19.
Loon’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alastair Westgarth says that Loon and Telkom continue to work collaboratively with governmental agencies to bring Loon’s service to Kenya.
Mr. Westgarth says: “Together with Telkom, we continue to 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, to connect unconnected and under-connected communities. We are grateful to these agencies for their support, collaboration, and innovative approach to expanding connectivity.”