Kenyans will soon enjoy high upload and download internet speeds from Telkom and Loon starting July 2020 after successful network integration tests were completed in late June.
During one of their tests, Loon and Telkom registered an uplink speed of 4.74 mbps, a downlink speed of 18.9 mbps, and latency of 19 milliseconds (ms) for email, web browsing, data calls e.g via WhatsApp, video calls, and YouTube.
In a statement, Telkom Kenya’s Chief Executive Officer, Mugo KIBATI, said, “This is an exciting milestone for Internet service provision in Africa and the world, more so that the service will pioneer in Kenya. This being a purely data service and with the continued migration of communication towards data-supported platforms, the Internet-enabled balloons will be able to offer connectivity to the many Kenyans who live in remote regions that are underserved or totally unserved, and as such remain disadvantaged.”
Loon and Telkom are working together to limit any potential service disruptions and improve the user’s experience and Loon will dispatch more balloons to the service region to increase consistency in service.
The mobile Internet service will be available from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm and will initially cover a region spanning nearly 50,000 sq.km., including the areas of Iten, Eldoret, Baringo, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Bomet, Kericho, and Narok.
This new technology will also complement Telkom’s ongoing strategy to further widen our network coverage, enabling us realise our brand promise; to be Kenya’s preferred data network.”
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of this crisis has made online education, and other crucial interventions to the country such as Telemedicine as well as digitised and automated platforms to enable the consumer still access service, the new normal.
“We could not be more excited to launch service in Kenya. This is the culmination of years of work and collaboration between Loon, Telkom, and the government,” said Loon’s Chief Executive Officer, Alastair WESTGARTH. “Without the support and engagement by various government agencies, today would not be possible. We are incredibly grateful to the many governmental stakeholders who helped usher in Africa’s first application of this innovative technology.”
Loon and Telkom are utilising a fleet of around 35 or more separate balloons that are in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa. Balloons are launched from locations in the United States and navigate to Kenya using wind currents in the stratosphere.
As Loon gains more experience flying in Kenya, and dispatches more balloons to the service region, it is expected that service consistency will increase.
“In light of the spread of COVID-19, Telkom and Loon are working as fast as we can to realise service deployment. This will also enable us support the Kenyan Government’s efforts to manage the current crisis in the short-term, and to establish sustainable operations to serve communities in Kenya in the long-term. The Loon service has the capacity to bring about positive impact; connecting targeted communities to emergency services, as well as ensure enhanced and alternative communication options during this Tim,.” said Loon Inc’s Chief Executive Officer, Alistair WESTGARTH.