Google Starts Internet Service Balloons in Kenya

The Project Loon balloons connect users to the internet down from the stratosphere.


NSFW    MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — Alphabet Inc has launched its stratospheric balloons to broadcast WiFi signals over Kenya in their first-ever commercial operation, according to Project Loon's chief executive officer Alastair Westgarth.

Writing in Medium, Westgarth says automated machines could launch a balloon to 60,000 feet every 30 minutes. The balloons carry flight controls, antennas, and solar panels, and they can stay in the air for 100 days at a time.

Each vehicle has a claimed coverage footprint of over 11,000 square kilometers, about 200 times that of a cellphone tower. The vehicles will allow users to access voice and video calls, WhatsApp, email, web browsing, and other services.

The balloons feature machine learning that could help them reposition themselves, beam internet to other vehicles to maintain the network, and service users on the ground. According to Westgarth, the vehicles have connected 35,000 unique users since testing began.
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