It’ll be a crucial test of whether the technology can sustainably make money.
The news: Google’s internet balloon spinoff, Loon, is preparing for its first commercial test in partnership with Telekom Kenya, the country’s third biggest telecom firm, Reuters reports. The trial will let mountain villagers buy 4G services for an as yet undefined period. The project is expected to receive final approval from Kenya’s aviation authority this month.
Closely watched: The pilot, whenever it finally launches, will be a crucial test for internet balloons, which were originally conceived as a way to bring internet connectivity to remote areas. The high-altitude balloons create an aerial wireless network that communicates with an antenna system on the ground, powered by solar cells. There have been successful early (noncommercial) tests of the technology in Peru and Puerto Rico.
However: The Loon project has faced a number of problems. The balloons only last a few months before deteriorating, for example, and work only in sunny places because they rely on solar energy.
Superseded: Since Loon was conceived back in 2011, a growing number of companies have been racing to provide broadband connectivity from space, which may prove a more viable way of getting internet access to hard-to-reach places.
Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.