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Telkom Kenya, Loon to initiate internet project in 2019

Telkom Kenya, Loon to initiate internet project in 2019

The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has given Telkom Kenya and Alphabet company Loon the go-ahead to implement the balloon-based internet coverage project.

The partnership, announced in July this year, will facilitate implementation during the first half of 2019 and balloons will be launched across areas with minimal internet coverage.

Loon's Chief Executive Officer Alastair Westgarth said, "Together with Telkom Kenya, we have been working in close collaboration with the Kenya Communications Authority, Civil Aviation Authority, and others to secure the needed approvals to usher in Africa's first-ever deployment of this innovative solution to connect unconnected and under-connected communities."

According to a statement by Loon, regulatory approval allows the project to host Telkom spectrum on its stratospheric balloons; utilise millimetre wave spectrum to send connectivity from the ground to overhead balloons, and import and install ground infrastructure.

Ground stations have been established in Nairobi and Nakuru, with construction done by Telkom, Nokia, the East Africa Data Centre, and Liquid Telecom.

The stations will beam internet signals that will be "bounced off" a balloon 20km in the air and relayed across multiple balloons to create a network of 'floating tower cells'.

A statement from the Communications Authority's Director General Francis Wangusi complemented the partnership "for using new and emerging technologies in rolling out ICT services particularly in the remote parts of the country."

"The Authority granted the requisite approvals to the two entities for deployment of Internet services using Loon's Balloon powered technology on a trial basis. We encourage other industry players to leverage on new and emerging technologies to roll out ICT services," Wangusi said.

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