Following the announcement that it has permission to operate in Kenya, Loon has said that it is expanding its footprint in Africa.
The subsidiary of Alphabet, which takes internet connectivity to the skies in a fleet of balloons, and pan-African operator Vodacom have signed a commercial contract to begin serving the Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces of Mozambique.
The Loon and Vodacom teams have been working collaboratively with various regulators to secure approvals and enable the service. Loon now has the necessary permissions to fly above Mozambique, to import and install ground infrastructure, and to serve Vodacom users with Loon’s floating cell towers.
In the coming months, Loon will continue to install ground infrastructure and begin test flights so that its autonomous navigation system can begin learning the wind patterns in the stratosphere above Mozambique. Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces, two regions that have proven hard to cover in the past, are, in theory, ideal for Loon’s offering.
Loon also hopes to share vehicles across service regions when it makes sense to do so as this will increase utilisation rates.
This announcement follows the recent news of a global collaboration with AT&T that will put Loon in a position to respond more quickly and effectively to disasters worldwide.
Having successfully integrated the Loon system with AT&T’s network, Loon will be able to provide service to a third-party mobile operator, assuming they have a standard international roaming relationship with AT&T.
In the last few months, Loon says, it has secured approvals to fly over a number of African countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Malawi and Lesotho. This brings to over 50 the total number of countries and regions Loon has approval to fly over.