NAIROBI: Kenya has introduced giant 4G-enabled balloons that provide internet to remote areas of the country.
The new idea is a collaboration of Kenya with Google’s sister firm Loon and its aim is to provide all marginalized areas an internet connection where there is no internet facility.
The balloons will provide 4G coverage so people can make voice calls, video calls, browse the web, email, send text messages, and stream videos. The project was announced two years ago but the final sign-off from the Kenyan government has only just been given.
The move is considered essential to improve communications during the coronavirus pandemic. Initially, the balloons’ 4G internet service has been tested with 35,000 customers and will cover a region spanning 50,000 sq km (19,000 sq miles). Later on, more than 35 solar-powered balloons will be in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa.
They are launched in the US and make their way to Kenya using wind currents. One field test of the service showed download speeds of 18.9Mbps (megabits per second) and upload speeds of 4.7Mbps.
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