Google is in the process of signing a deal with the Kenyan telecommunication operators to deliver mobile Internet to remote and underserved areas through a network of floating balloons. The project is expected to help in the reduction of the cost of Internet packages.
Through their Project Loon, Google has embarked on a global campaign to increase Internet connectivity and penetration in Kenya. The ICT ministry’s reaction to this project has been cordial. The ministry is optimistic that the initiative will bring down the cost of Internet. The main advantage of using Loon balloons is that they’re much less expensive to install compared to the communication satellites. They’re also strong as far as Internet connectivity is concerned.
This is what the principal secretary in the ministry of ICT, Mr Sammy Itemere had to say concerning this project;
It is companies such as X that innovate and provide solutions that benefit our city. We welcome the use of high-altitude balloons to create an aerial wireless network that offers real benefits to consumers
The partnership between telecommunications and Google for the deployment of the wireless Internet signals will definitely have a great impact. This can be backed up with data; A report conducted by Jumia and GSMA mobile, which was conducted in 2017, found that 67% of Kenyans can access the Internet using mobile phones. This is above Africa’s average accessibility which stands at 18%.
Each balloon, which only uses renewable energy, can cover up to 5,000 square kilometres. 10 balloons have been deployed for testing in Nakuru, Nanyuki, Nyeri, and Marsabit.
Telkom has been in consultation with Google for a partnership in the project although the process hasn’t been finalised. George Mlaghui, the chief corporate communication officer of Telkom said;
Telkom has not yet deployed any service on this solution as we are still in discussions with the team from Loon to conclude on potential partnerships and synergies, using their solutions.