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Loon’s Balloon-powered Internet is Going to Mozambique


After landing in Kenya, Alphabet’s balloon-powered internet project is ready to venture into a new market. Mozambique will be Loon’s second market in Africa after Kenya. The company has partnered with Vodacom to enable reliable 4G internet in two provinces in the country – Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces – which have proved to be hard to cover in the past.

Loon’s proposition for enabling easier network coverage makes it an excellent fit to cover vast lands that would be rather difficult to power using regular infrastructure, which is costly.

It’s, therefore, the best way to enable reliable coverage with minimal infrastructure in hard-to-cover regions or those that have patchy connections.

“We’re extremely pleased to be partnering with Vodacom, one of Africa’s largest mobile network operators…. With Loon’s Mobile Network Expansion (MNE) solution, we’ll help Vodacom reach more users in Mozambique and bring connectivity to places where it previously didn’t exist,” said Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon in a blog post.

Loon has already acquired the necessary licenses that are required before deployment. Loon is now permitted to “fly above Mozambique, to import and install ground infrastructure, and to serve Vodacom users with Loon’s floating cell towers.”

The next few months will be all about installing ground infrastructure and performance of test flights that will help Loon’s autonomous navigation system learn to the ins and outs of Mozambique’s stratosphere.

Speaking on the same, Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said, “Vodacom’s partnership with Loon is a perfect example of how technological innovation can connect the most rural communities in Africa. We are pleased to be part of this initiative in Mozambique, which is helping to bridge the digital divide.”

“We look forward to forging similar partnerships and projects across the continent, as we ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to accessing the global digital economy,” he added.

In Kenya, four balloons landed last month and the company together with Telkom Kenya are already doing commercial tests. The official launch has not yet commenced.

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin is a freelance tech journalist. Talk to me via email at alvinwanjala[at]pm[dot]me

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