Google’s parent company Alphabet is continuing its mission is to bring internet to underserved areas through its Loon balloon-based internet service. Earlier this year, the company reached a milestone of over 1 million total hours of balloon stratospheric flight, and signed a contract to offer commercial service in Kenya. Today, Loon announced it would also be bringing internet to areas of Peru.
Working together with local infrastructure operator Internet Para Todos Perú (IpT), Loon will use its high-altitude balloons to provide internet access to parts of the Loreto Region of the Peruvian Amazon, where around 200,000 people live. According to the company, a quarter of people in this area lack 3G or better internet access, and many in rural areas don’t have reliable mobile service at all.
Loon has previously worked in Peru when its balloons provided internet access following a massive earthquake there in May this year. It also provided emergency internet in Northern Peru following the 2017 El Niño floods.
The system works using a network of balloons which operate at 20km (12.4 miles) above sea level, acting as “floating cell towers” which transmit 4G service from providers. The high altitude lets the balloons avoid hazards like air traffic, weather events and wildlife.
Before balloon launches can begin in Peru, however, Loon and IpT must first secure regulatory approval from Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.