Vodacom pulls plug on Internet balloons project - TechCentral

Vodacom pulls plug on Internet balloons project

Following Google parent Alphabet’s decision on Thursday to kill off its Loon Internet balloon start-up, Vodacom Group has said it will no longer proceed with a Loon project to deliver communications in rural Mozambique.

“Vodacom Mozambique will regrettably no longer be able to proceed with its Internet balloon project following Alphabet’s closure of Project Loon,” the company said in response to a query from TechCentral on Friday.

“We remain committed to the acceleration of rural coverage in Mozambique and are exploring alternative options for this purpose,” it said.

Vodacom announced its Loon plans for Mozambique in May last year.

Loon was meant to help Vodacom provide service to unserved and underserved parts of the Southern African nation with a network of “floating cellphone towers” that operated 20km above Earth. It planned to expand mobile network access to the Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces, “two regions that have proven hard to cover in the past due to the vast and logistically challenging geographical areas, together with low population density”, Vodacom said in a statement at the time.

Regulators

Loon and Vodacom had worked with Mozambican communications and aviation regulators, including Autoridade Reguladora das Comunicações de Moçambique and the Institute for Civil Aviation of Mozambique, to obtain the necessary approvals to enable the service.

It’s not known how much Vodacom invested in the project.  — (c) 2021 NewsCentral Media

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