X, a research and Development Company by Google is seeking partnership with a Kenyan telecom company to launch its internet balloon system. The company prides itself as a pioneer for the internet balloon system which has been in the test stage in various parts of rural Kenya since August last year. Some of the areas include Marsabit, Nanyuki, Nyeri, and Nakuru. The ideas were welcomed by the Personal Secretary for the Ministry of ICT Mr. Sammy Itemere who said the high altitude balloons would create an aerial wireless network that offers real benefits to Kenyans.
The project Loon partnership with a Kenyan telecoms company will see the project is rolled out in the country. So far, only Telkom has shown interest in a possible partnership. The project could provide millions living in the rural areas with internet connectivity. Due to the lack of a fiber connection or ground stations in these areas, this can be achieved through a network of balloons.
The balloons are essentially wireless connectivity devices that communicate with existing bell towers and beam internet signals across a wider area covered by the cell tower. There is uncertainty about the safety of the balloons after one crashed in a farm in Meru. The same has been reported in Panama and the United States among at least ten other countries.
The Loon balloons are designed to auto-launch every 30 minutes. Safely and consistently. To date, the balloons on the Project Loon have covered over 25 million kilometers of test flight since it began. Their balloons are designed to stay afloat for 100 days before descending at a safe speed. Their balloons are made to withstand the stratospheric climate and fast winds. To date, the record-breaking balloon has stayed afloat for 190 days in the stratosphere. The balloons have also demonstrated data transmissions between them 100 kilometers apart.
Connection speeds have been measured to reach up to 10 Mbps (megabytes per second). These balloons are seen as an internet solution for people working and living in remote and rural areas.