Google's parent brings internet balloons to Kenya
Alphabet Inc began offering the world's first commercial high-speed internet using balloons to villagers in remote regions of Kenya's Rift Valley.
Up in the sky
"Kenya is the first country... to have base stations high up in the sky. Now we will be able to cover the whole country in a very short span of time," said Information Minister Joe Mucheru after launching the service.
Inching towards viability
The technology has been used before, but not commercially. U.S. telecom operators used balloons to connect more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico after a 2017 hurricane.
The floating base stations have a much wider coverage, about a hundred times the area of a traditional cell phone tower. The large, translucent balloons are fitted with a solar panel and battery, and float in the upper atmosphere, high above planes and weather.
AI trumping humans
They also have software equipped with artificial intelligence to navigate flight paths without much human intervention.