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Google Loon, 4G internet explained

By Brian George | Mar 23rd 2020 | 2 min read
By Brian George | March 23rd 2020

President Kenyatta on Monday announced that public telecommunications company Telkom has entered into a partnership with Google Loon to provide 4G internet connectivity, for Kenyans all over the country to access information through the net.

The partnership, the president explained, was reached to enable access to information, to enhance surveillance on Coronavirus and to enhance education in areas in Kenya that haven’t reached by internet access.

What exactly does the new initiative mean; here is an explanation of the Loon and 4G internet:


4G is the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, succeeding 3G, 2G, and 1G Internet.

1G technology was super slow in internet and data connectivity.

Then came 2G. Which the first iPhone that was released in June 2007, was 2G and it had internet speeds of between 20-100 kilobytes per second (kbps). Still, this was very slow compared to where the technology world is today.

3G followed, with an internet speed of 384kpbs.

4G gives an internet speed starting from five Megabytes per second (Mbps).

The ‘G’ stands for a generation of wireless technology. This means you get relatively faster data and internet speeds, compared to the previous generation which is 3G.

However, the ever diverse world of technology has already invented 5G an even faster wireless internet connectivity generation. Already, mobile handsets are being manufactured with 5G features.

Google Loon

Google Loon, on the other hand, is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, delivering connectivity to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world. The loon is made up of a balloon made of polyethylene and flight system equipment.

Image of a Loon (Photo: Courtesy)


Loon balloons are designed and manufactured to endure the harsh conditions in the stratosphere, where winds can blow over 100 kilometer per hour, and temperatures can drop as low as -90° C.

Made from sheets of polyethylene, each tennis court-sized balloon is built to last for well over 100 days before landing back on Earth in a controlled descent.

Loon partners with mobile network operators globally to expand the reach of their 4G internet connectivity service. They help expand coverage to places that lack it, supplement existing networks, and provide expedient coverage after natural disasters.

Delivering connectivity from balloons flying 20 km up in the stratosphere poses a unique set of engineering challenges.

However, the balloons can fly up to 20 kilometers up in the sky to deliver internet connectivity

A loon in the sky (Photo: Courtesy)

Loon combines advancements in materials science, atmospheric modeling, machine learning, communications systems, and more.

According to Kenyatta, the partnership plans began two years ago.

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