Just a month after Project Loon was given a go-ahead by the government, commercial testing has already commenced. Current reports suggest that Telkom Kenya together with Alphabet’s Loon have already begun commercial testing and the full rollout is expected to be done “in the coming weeks.”

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“Loon balloons are currently drifting over Kenya performing network testing, and preparing to bring connectivity to people who subscribe to mobile service with our partner Telkom Kenya,” said Loon CTO Sal Candido.

Changing altitudes of four balloons along their paths over Kenya for a day.
Changing altitudes of four balloons along their paths over Kenya for a day./Loon

During the official announcement last month, Telkom Kenya stated that the balloons, which were to be deployed directly from the US, should arrive here in a few weeks. So far, four Loon balloons have been spotted flying over some parts of Eastern and around Coastal Kenya.

Loon has two launch sites – one in Puerto Rico and another in Nevada – and once balloons are deployed to the atmosphere, they fly using the fastest route possible that the wind allows.

For instance, the first balloon to arrive in Kenya two weeks ago, codenamed HBAL125, was deployed from Puerto Rico and traveled over the Atlantic Ocean and then flew southeast along the coast of Brazil, then south into the Southern Atlantic jet stream and finally North into the equatorial region. It landed in the Kenyan stratosphere through coordination with the local authorities.

First Loon balloon travel path
First Loon balloon travel path/ Image Project Loon

Loon internet balloons will help people in remote areas with little to no internet connection get reliable 4G connections on Telkom without the company investing millions in building conventional physical infrastructure.

To ensure stable connectivity, the balloons use machine learning-driven navigation algorithms to maneuver strategically throughout the day.

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