‘Uhuru balloons’ to be switched off

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Loon technology that had been launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March last year had been switched off, Telkom Kenya has announced. 

The technology pilot with Loon will be coming to an end on March 1, 2021. This news comes following the announcement that Loon LLC is being wound down as a company, globally.

The intent of the Loon technology pilot was to help bridge the digital divide through the provision of 4G/LTE coverage using floating cell towers, in areas that were difficult to access and connect via terrestrial solutions, as well as in areas that were not commercially viable for service providers.

Loon chief executive Alastair Westgarth thanked innovators who were behind the technology.  “Loon would not have been possible without a community of innovators and risk takers who were willing to take a chance on us and build something the world has never seen before. While we’re sad to share that Loon’s journey is coming to an end, we are grateful to the Telkom team for their vision and partnership,” he said.

Loon will continue to provide service with Telkom in Kenya until March 1, this year. Over the coming months, the Loon team will work closely with Telkom to ensure the operations of the technology’s pilot service are wrapped up safely and smoothly.

Telkom CEO Mugo Kibati said that was exciting to have partnered with Loon LLC in filling the internet access gaps in marginalised areas.

“Telkom remains cognisant of the integral role our core terrestrial network plays in keeping our customers connected. We continue with our long-term terrestrial network expansion plan, that is informed by our overall company strategy, which will see us scale up to 80% of our network to 4G, increase our network footprint across the country, and get more Kenyans online,” he added.

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