Google's Loon set to launch in Uganda a month after launching in Kenya

Mid-July this year, Alphabet's (Google's parent company) Loon partnered with Telkom Kenya to "provide balloon-powered internet to regions of central Kenya, starting in 2019."

A month later, the balloon-powered company is extending its services to Uganda. That is according to a press release we have received from the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda - NITA-U.

The announcement was made at an event that took place earlier today in Kampala, Uganda. Delegates from NITA-U, US Embassy, Loon and other Ugandan government agencies were in attendance.

"This morning, a cross-section of stakeholders from the National Information Technology Authority, Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Defence & Veterinary Affairs, Ministry of Security and the EAC Civil Aviation & Security Oversight Agency met," wrote NITA-U.

Adding that these met "with Project Loon to discuss how internet access in hard to reach areas of Uganda can be enhanced." NITA-U believes that with the launch of Loon in Uganda, "internet access in rural areas is set to be increased."

Loon describes itself as a company that "partners with mobile network operators globally to expand the reach of their LTE service".

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An example is their entry into Kenya. Yet, the press release from NITA-U never pointed out if they have so far engaged any telecom operator in Uganda.

Though, chances are they are in - or will consider - talks with either Airtel or MTN. Given they are the two leading telecom companies in the country.

According to Loon, "billions of people around the world are still without internet access".

So, it is looking to solve this problem by deploying a "network of balloons traveling on the edge of space' that will deliver "connectivity to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world."

Loon, now part of X (formerly Google X), started out in 2011 as an idea that only got its first wifi connection in 2013. This was in New Zealand after carrying out a couple of iterations.

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It is evident that Google - and any other internet company - is looking at connecting the hard to reach or currently underserved with the hope that its services can reach more people.

Yet, recent policies from the government of Uganda have been a deterrent to using of Over The Top - OTT - Services.

It would be interesting to find out what Google - an internet company - thinks about continuing with investments in a country that's making internet accessibility harder.

Digest Africa


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