National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U)has confirmed that Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) Loon will launch in Uganda, a month after launching in Kenya to provide 4G internet services.
Google partnered with Telkom Kenya to provide balloon-powered internet to regions of central Kenya, starting in 2019.
Loon is an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary working on providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The company uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 18 km (11 miles) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds.
The announcement was made at an event that took place 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. We met with Project Loon to discuss how internet access in hard to reach areas of Uganda can be enhanced,” read the statement from NITA-U.
NITA-U believes that with the launch of Loon in Uganda, internet access in rural areas is set to be increased.
Loon has not announced the telco they will partner with in Uganda, as in Kenyan case where they will partner with Telkom Kenya.
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 (mostly in rural areas are still without internet access.
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.
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.
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