Alphabet subsidiary Loon dispatched five additional connectivity balloons to Kenya, in a bid to speed network integration testing with partner Telkom Kenya and the launch of 4G internet service in the country.
The company stated the additions will join eight balloons already in Kenyan airspace and being used for integration exercises. It added the latest batch recently launched from Puerto Rico and are expected to arrive in Kenya in the coming weeks.
Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati said the additional kit will help accelerate testing and provide insights which can be used to “fast track integration of all other balloons” sent to the country in future to form a commercial fleet.
A Loon representative told Mobile World Live the fleet will eventually include “dozens of balloons” operating near and above Kenya, with each designed to fly for “hundreds of days in the stratosphere” before being replaced. Loon’s longest-lived balloon flew for 223 days, the representative added.
The commercial service will initially target cities including capital Nairobi, along with other key towns and regions. Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said the company was looking forward to “beginning to provide service in the near future”.
Loon secured government approval for deployments in the country last month after facing delays which forced it to abandon its initial goal of launching commercial service in 2019.