A pilot project in Kenya meant to provide internet access to remote areas will be discontinued from March – six months after its launch.
The move comes following a decision by Google’s parent-company Alphabet to close its sister firm, Loon, which was set up to build giant balloons to beam the internet to rural areas.
The internet-enabled balloons were to provide 4G internet service so people could make voice and video calls, browse the web, email, text and stream videos.
But the project failed to make costs low enough to make it sustainable, Alphabet’s chief executive said in a blog post on Thursday.
Loon had signed a major deal with a Kenyan telecommunications company, Telkom, to bring 4G to remote parts of the country.
The idea had been to have 35 solar-powered balloons – which were the size of tennis courts and self-navigating – in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa.
Telkom has said the pilot technology will end on 1 March following the announcement that Loon is being wound down.
“Over the coming months, the Loon team will work closely with Telkom to ensure the operations of the technology’s pilot service are wrapped up safely and smoothly,” it said in a statement.
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