Google floats idea of extending Loon’s balloon-based 4G service from Kenya to Uganda

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Google associate Project Loon is considering expanding its balloon-supported 4G network from Kenya to Uganda, according to reports.

Project Loon uses balloons 15km above the surface to carry airborne 4G base stations, complete with solar panels. One balloon would be able to cover an area of 5,000 sq km.

The company, owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, started trials in Kenya in July 2018. Now, according to a report in ChimpReports, the company is planning to expand to neighbouring Uganda. ChimpReports is a news website based in Uganda.

The report says a number of government officials met Project Loon executives to discuss the use of balloons to increase rural coverage.

ChimpReports quotes the US ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac, speaking at an IT workshop: “Bringing internet to rural areas in Uganda remains a big challenge. The presence of Project Loon here today is an important step towards connecting remote populations.”

The ambassador tweeted: “Great to be part of this workshop today. Google’s #ProjectLoon offers an innovative solution to connect rural Ugandans to the global economy.”

Loon’s head of aviation, Robert Eagles, said the balloons would operate at twice the height of commercial aircraft, reducing the threat of collision. He said the service provided by balloons would facilitate government programmes such as e-commerce and e-education, said the report.