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Internet for the masses: Google’s Project Loon finally takes off in SA

Google’s Project Loon has finally launched in South Africa.

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We’ve picked up wind about Google’s Project Loon a while ago — the very exciting project that’s looking to use balloons and wind currents to bring internet to rural areas around the globe. It’s as out-of-the box, it’s ambitious and it’s trying to solve a real problem: the digital divide. Perfect.

Conceived in the company’s secretive Google X research lab, the project is said to beam internet access to the ground “at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster”.

“The idea may sound a bit crazy—and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon—but there’s solid science behind it”, said project lead Mike Cassidy in its official announcement last year.

The massive tech company initially launched its pilot programme in New Zealand June last year. Google further plans to expand the testing phase of the project to countries at the same latitude as New Zealand, including South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Uruguay.

The technology has since launch last year been piloted in California and Brazil. According to an article on Business Tech, internet can be accessed via an antenna mounted to the side of a home or workplace, or directly to LTE-enabled devices.

As stated in the article, “If successful, Project Loon could be an affordable, scalable way to help address the digital divide in South Africa, a large country with many towns and communities still isolated from broadband Internet access,” said Luke Mckend, country director of Google South Africa.

So while American states, Kansas and Missouri, get Google Fibre, South Africa’s on the verge of getting internet balloons. The latter might not give 1 Gbit/s fast connection speeds but it’s definitely a hell of lot more interesting!

Here’s a video on how Project Loon works:

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