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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Alphabet “hatched” startup to deliver balloon-
based Internet service to Kenya   

SAN FRANCISCO United States (Xinhua) -- Google’s sister company Loon announced Thursday that it is cooperating with a Kenya telecom firm to deploy a high-altitude balloon system to provide Internet service next year to remote rural and suburban areas in Kenya.

Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said it is a big step for the startup that had just “graduated” from Alphabet’s Project Loon at its innovative incubator of X lab last week, to embark on Loon’s first commercial engagement in Africa.

“Together with Telkom Kenya, we’ll provide balloon-powered Internet to regions of central Kenya, starting in 2019,” Westgarth said. Telkom Kenya is the third biggest telecommunications provider founded in 1999 in Kenya that operates post and telecom services to Kenyan customers.

He said Loon’s balloons will be flying at 60,000 feet (about 18,288 meters) in the air on the edge of space to deliver 4G/LTE cellular access to remote areas in Kenya.

“Our path to success as a company is through providing value to mobile network partners like Telkom Kenya and helping them extend their reach to places where ground-based infrastructure can’t go,” said the Loon CEO.

Loon “graduated” from Alphabet’s X “moonshot factory” to become an independent subsidiary firm of Google’s parent company on July 11, with pledge to go ahead with its commitment to the business of using high-altitude balloons to deliver WiFi Internet service to “unconnected and under-connected people around the world.”

The company had successfully used the technology to bring Internet connectivity to people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year.

Loon became the fourth firm that emerged from Alphabet’s X lab project and joined other subsidiaries to become Google’s sister company, such as smart-thermostat maker Nest, health-data firm Verily and self-driving car operator Waymo.

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