Google's sister company wants to expand balloon-based internet in Africa
- Loon, an Alphabet company that started as a Google project, is in preliminary talks with Uganda about providing 4G LTE internet service to the country's rural areas.
- The talks come a month after Loon reached an agreement to provide service to remote areas in Kenya.
- The talks indicate that there might be a market in Africa for Loon's brand of balloon-borne wifi service.
Loon, the Alphabet subsidiary that started as a Google project, is in preliminary talks with Uganda that could bring balloon-borne wifi service to some of the African nation's rural areas, the company confirmed on Thursday.
Loon, born out of what was the Google X skunkworks lab, uses balloons to carry cell-tower equipment into the stratosphere and beam 4G LTE-based internet service across broad swaths of land. The company was created to bring internet service to people living in remote locations who otherwise couldn't get it.
On Tuesday, news media in Uganda reported that a deal had already been struck and the Loon's balloons would soon be floating over the the nation. However, Scott Coriell, a Loon spokesperson, indicated that an agreement did not yet exist between the company and Uganda.
“A team from Loon was in Uganda earlier this week meeting with officials to discuss how Loon works and our commitment to safety," Coriell said in a statement. "We are always in discussions with governments and mobile network operators about the benefits of Loon, but we have no additional announcements to make at this time.”
The news comes a month after an agreement between Loon and Kenya was announced. The talks with Uganda are another sign that there might be a market in Africa for Loon, which only recently became a standalone division within Alphabet.
Judging from some of the statements made at a ceremony this week attended by representatives from numerous Ugandan government organisations as well as US officials, the country believes it is important to follow Kenya's lead.
According to news outlet Chimpreports.com, US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac told those gathered that "Bringing internet to rural areas in Uganda remains a big challenge. The presence of Project Loon here today is an important step towards connecting remote populations.”
Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa:
- MTN investors lost billions in less than an hour – and this may be the final straw
- SA tech entrepreneur arrested in New York amid shocking allegations of how he may have lied and cheated to get money
- New York has been renamed 'Jewtropolis' on Snapchat and other popular apps
- We tried chips from McDonald's, Steers and other takeaway joints - and the winner was clear
- The 31-year-old teacher who beat 30,000 people to become the world champion of public speaking explains exactly how she did it