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Google Uses Balloons To Bring Internet To Remote Regions

Google is continuing their quest to reach every corner of the globe and is now planning to send a fleet of giant balloons to provide internet access to remote and impoverished regions.

The internet giants' sister company Loon has announced their first commercial deal, a partnership with Telkom Kenya to hand internet connectivity to the said country with a novel strategy.

The companies will team up to launch several balloons bearing data harnessing devices around the African state, per the BBC, but experts have urged the parties to remain aware of a potential communications monopoly.

via wikipedia.com

The terms of the deal have been kept under wraps, but Telkom's chief exec Aldo Mareuse has announced that the internet balloons will take to the air as soon as possible.

"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," he said.

The balloons are able to float high in the stratosphere, around 20km above sea level, out of the way of planes, storms, and wildlife, and can provide coverage over 5,000 square km.

They're made out of polythene, filled with helium and a powered by a solar panel and are also as large as an entire tennis court. The soon-to-be airborne devices should be able to remain afloat for several months at a time while they move by riding wind channels, navigating the trajectory of travel by predicting wind speeds and direction.

Each balloon carries an antenna which transmits internet signals obtained from points on the ground.

Telkom will be providing the internet while Loon deals with spreading the balloons over remote areas in Kenya.

via tomshardware.co.uk

"Once these networks are in place, and dependency has reached a critical level, users are at the mercy of changes in business strategy, pricing, terms and conditions and so on," Ken Banks, an expert on African connectivity warned.

"This would perhaps be less of a problem if there's more than one provider - you can simply switch network - but if Loon and Telkom have monopolies in these areas, that could be a ticking time bomb."

Banks makes a very good point, things could go south after some time and consumers face the risk of being exploited, given that they have no other choice.

What a time to be alive, though.

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