Loon has announced that it has received the necessary regulatory approvals by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to launch its service in Kenya. The Google owned company has partnered with Telkom to launch balloon-powered Internet in Kenya.

The company also shared that its plan to conduct tests in 2019 are on course. It will now start the process of importing and installing ground infrastructure in Kenya after receiving approvals. The initial service area will be in the general region of central Kenya, some of which has been difficult to service due to mountainous and inaccessible terrain.

The regulatory approvals allow Loon to host Telkom spectrum on its stratospheric balloons; utilise millimeter wave spectrum to send connectivity from the ground to balloons overhead, and import and install ground infrastructure. Thus far, Loon has worked with Telkom, Nokia, East Africa Data Centre, and Liquid Telecom to install ground stations in Nairobi and Nakuru.

Loon’s CEO Alastair Westgarth says that Loon and Telkom are working collaboratively with governmental agencies to bring Loon’s service to Kenya.

Mr. 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. We are grateful to these agencies for their support, collaboration, and innovative approach to expanding connectivity.”

The Communications Authority’s Director General, Mr. Francis Wangusi said: “CA wishes to congratulate Telkom Kenya and Loon LLC on making progress toward the launch of Internet services in the underserved and un-served regions of the country, using new and innovative technologies. 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, particularly in remote and rural parts of the country.’’

Telkom Kenya announced the partnership with Loon in July this year. This is the first Loon commercial service in Africa.

Loon uses base stations that are housed in high altitude balloons that operate 20 kilometres (65,000 feet) above sea level to provide mobile phone services. The base stations are powered by on-board solar panels.