Google parent Alphabet is to launch internet balloons in Kenya, to provide coverage in rural and remote areas.
The deal, between new Alphabet spin-out Loon and Telkom Kenya, will provide rural and suburban populations in Kenya with high-speed internet service. This will be the project's first deal in Africa, according to Reuters. If successful, the company will look into helping other areas around the world.
Loon, which became an independent company last week, began as a project at X - Alphabet's research-and-development facility - in 2016.
Loon's balloons will float 60,000 feet (18 km) above sea level, much higher than any passenger plane, which fly at only 30,000 feet (9 km). The project will provide internet signals across a massive area, using solar panels on board to generate power. Each polyethene balloon can deliver internet coverage over 2,000 square miles and stay aloft for months, meaning there is very little maintenance for them.
Last year, before Loon was its own company, Alphabet teamed up with AT&T to deliver limited internet access to Puerto Rico, just after it was devastated by large storms.
CEO of Loon, Alastair Westgart, said: "Loon's mission is to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies. We couldn't be more pleased to start in Kenya."
Telkom Kenya's CEO, Aldo Mareuse, said: "We will work very hard with Loon, to deliver the first commercial mobile service, as quickly as possible, using Loon's balloon-powered Internet in Africa."
Loon will deploy the balloons in central Kenya, an area that has been challenging to service due to the mountainous and inaccessible terrain, Telkom says.
Loon has not revealed any plans beyond its work in Kenya, but expect to see more locations below balloons as the eight-day old company expands.
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