Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Ultra-Broadband

Telkom Kenya Strikes Commercial Service Deal With Google's Loon

Article Image
Telkom Kenya has struck a partnership with Google's Loon that aims to deliver wireless Internet connectivity using a network of stratospheric balloons, that will see the two companies jointly launch a commercial mobile service in 2019.

The news was not unexpected, as Connecting Africa reported last month that the Google unit was seeking partners in Kenya. (See Project Loon Seeks Operator Partners in Kenya.)

The resulting pilot service, which will be Loon's first commercial offering in Africa, is expected to launch next year. From network service stations, Telkom Kenya will connect via point-to-point wireless links with Loon's solar-powered balloons, which then, from a height of about 20km above sea level, transmit a signal over large areas to provide 4G/LTE service to remote areas, essentially acting as floating mobile cell towers. This Loon video explains how it works:

The initial pilot service is planned for "the general area of central Kenya, some of which has been difficult to service, due to mountainous and inaccessible terrain," noted the operator in its press release about the partnership. "The exact coverage areas will be determined in the coming months, and subject to the requisite regulatory approvals," said the operator.

There was no mention in the announcement about potential service prices or what kind of service customers might receive in terms of mobile broadband data speeds.

"This partnership demonstrates the Board's commitment to guide and oversee the transformation of Telkom into a business with a reputation for innovation, with respect to its product and service offering," said Eddy Njoroge, Telkom Kenya's Board Chair. "This partnership with Loon is also true testament of our resolve to deploy pioneer technologies due to their potential impact to our customers," he gushed.

The operator's CEO, Aldo Mareuse, added: "Telkom is focused on bringing innovative products and solutions to the Kenyan market. With this association with Loon, we will be partnering with a pioneer in the use of high altitude balloons to provide LTE coverage across larger areas in Kenya. We will work very hard with Loon to deliver the first commercial mobile service as quickly as possible, using Loon's balloon-powered Internet in Africa. This collaboration represents another important step towards Telkom's continued quest to provide high-quality, reliable and affordable data offerings to our customers."

Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said: "We are extremely excited to partner with Telkom for our first engagement in Africa. Their innovative approach to serving their customers makes this collaboration an excellent fit. Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies."

Loon was previously a "Project" within the empire of Alphabet, Google's parent, but was recently given independent business unit status.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

Innovation hub

Story

African tech startup funding hits $3.3B in 2022

Investment in Africa's tech startup ecosystem passed $3 billion for the first time in 2022, with Nigeria taking the biggest piece of pie and fintech dominating other sectors, according to a report from Disrupt Africa.

Story

Connecting Africa Podcast: S2 Ep. 4 – Agri-fintech, from kibbutz to Kenya

The Connecting Africa Podcast team speak to Israeli-Kenyan startup Avenews' co-founder and CEO, Shalom Ben-Or, about his fintech super-app that has been built specifically for Africa's agriculture industry.

More Innovation hub

Flash poll

All polls

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

More Guest Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up