Kenyan Telecom company, Telkom, and partners, Google Loon have received a go-ahead from the country’s aviation authorities, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, to deploy 4G station carrying balloons into the country’s airspace, which has the capacity to provide wider internet coverage and access to Kenya.
The approval as announced in a press release by Telkom, will facilitate communication and satellite internet connectivity in remote areas of the country, and enable Kenyans in these localities to retain and enhance remote access to their offices and enterprises, and ensure universal 4G data coverage is available throughout the country.
According to the release, “this intervention will enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantage in ICT and innovation in the midst of the current crisis while at the same time laying foundations for greater expansion once the current health challenge is contained. The development will also enable Telkom Kenya and Google Loon to start the commercial rollout of a 4G data network in our country. These two companies have been testing this service for the last two years.”
Furthermore, the balloons, which will be launched in the United States and reach the East Africa country in weeks, will undergo network integration procedures to provide the country with the needed connectivity in the short term.
“Once inaugurated, this service will extend Telkom Kenya’s 4G network to areas that are not covered by any of our mobile network providers. Therefore, all Kenyans, wherever they are in the country, will enjoy access to high speed and affordable internet services. I know the gesture by Google Loon and Telkom to offer their 4G to support our efforts in surveillance and management of coronavirus infections and this will go a long way to containing the present health challenge”, the document quoted.
With government enforcing a curfew on movement and non-essential businesses and services as a move to mitigate the spread of the novel Coronavirus, there is more reliance on internet connectivity to carry out commercial activities from homes, thus these technologies come in handy in a time such as this.
In cognisance of this, the CEO of Google Loon, Alastair Westgarth, said his team is working as fast as they can to deploy the Loon service in Kenya “to help in the short-term, and establish sustainable operations that will continue to serve Kenyans for the long-term”.
“Like many businesses big and small, Loon’s operations have seen some impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the groundwork we have already laid in Kenya, however, we’re confident that we can address these challenges and begin providing meaningful service to Kenyans in the near future”, he concluded.
Ogechi Onuoha is a Cambridge Certified ESOL editor with a background in reporting, international relations, creative writing and adept in industry research and analysis. She is passionate about curating and evaluating the benefits/relevance of space to grassroots development and women’s participation in the space sector.