>> Large parts of the world are still unconnected.>> A subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet has struck it's first deal in Africa in an agreement to beam the internet to rural and suburban communities in Kenya. And how will it do that?>> With balloons, really big balloons.>> Loon uses solar powered balloons to provide fourth generation, or 4G, coverage to areas with lower population densities.
They float 60,000 feet above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife, and weather events. The technology was developed by Alphabet's X innovation lab and used last year to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Reuters Duncan Miriri is following the story.>> The significance of today's announcement is that Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has just turned Loon into an independent business within the organization.
Prior to that it was just a project known as project Loon within the company's innovation lab, the Alphabet X. Now, today's announcement shows that this subsidiary Loon has come of age and it's able to do deals with mobile operators around the world. It's also the first time that Loon is announcing a commercial partnership with a mobile operator here in Africa.
The deal is with Telkom Kenya, the country's third biggest telecommunications provider, and the terms of the deal have not been released. The balloons are expected to take to the skies next year, providing Internet to vast rural sways in Kenya not currently connected to the Internet, while simultaneously providing a launchpad for Loon on the African continent.