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Will Alphabet's Loon hover over Uganda?

Will Alphabet's Loon hover over Uganda?

Google has played down media reports that claim the company plans to introduce Alphabet's internet-beaming balloon Project Loon to Uganda.

The tech firm confirmed that project representatives had met with Uganda officials, as well as Deborah Malac, the US Ambassador to Uganda, but insisted this was just preliminary talks.

Malac described bringing internet to rural areas in Uganda as a big challenge. "The presence of Project Loon here today is an important step towards connecting remote populations."

Although Google's focus is on the planned rollout for Kenya in 2019, tech experts believe it makes sense to consider neighbouring Uganda, considering the increase in cost of internet access as a result of the recently introduced social media tax.

For Loon to work in Uganda, Google requires a telecoms partner and regulatory approval, neither of which have been confirmed.

However, it is all systems go for rollout in Kenya.

"We will begin providing balloon-powered internet to parts of Kenya starting in 2019. We are always in discussions with governments and mobile network operators about the benefits of Loon," Google stated.

Project Loon uses balloons to carry cell-tower equipment into the stratosphere and beam 4G LTE-based internet service across wide areas and is designed to provide internet access to under-served, remote regions.

It has become a stand-alone division in Alphabet, even though it started as a Google project out of the Google X Skunkworks lab.

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