Google sister company Loon is in talks with Uganda to deliver balloon-based internet service — showing that Africa is a major opportunity for the company

Google Project LoonLoon balloons getting blown up.
  • 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. Scott Coriell, a Loon spokesman, however, 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.”

Google io project loonScreenshot

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, U.S. 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.”

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