The Kenyan government has today announced that it has given the green light to the rollout of Google Loon across the country. The project, though already doing some trial runs in the country, has mainly stalled due to bureaucracy issues that have placed bottlenecks on its path.
There were reports doing rounds that the project needed additional approval from the aviation authorities manning the Kenyan airspace. However, from a layman’s eyes, it might be underhand tactics by the corporate organizations (telecommunication companies) already operating in the market.
Google Loon means Competition to ISPs
Google Loon launch will most certainly send shockwaves in the local market. The already established internet service providers (ISPs), both fixed broadband and mobile data, will be going up in competition against the financial might of one of the world’s most profitable companies, Google.
The Google Loon project could easily blow the local ISPs out of the water, especially if their strategy is to get Kenyan consumers hooked to Google’s products and not particularly to rake in money from internet subscriptions.
That will automatically mean, internet charges from Google Loon could be fairly priced to the end consumers. It will then be a no-brainer for many consumers to dump their current ISPs and pick up the new one in town powered by the deep pockets of Google.
If conspiracy theories were to be drawn, the delay in the launch of the project might have been the underhand tactics by the current ISPs, both fixed broadband and mobile data, to delay and frustrate its launch.
Thanks to COVID19 and call for ‘Work from Home’
Kenya, like many other countries across the world, is currently fighting to contain the spread of the coronavirus. One of the rafts of measures the government has put in place is asking employers to make it possible for employees to work from home.
One of the biggest challenges on that front is the cost, availability, and reliability of the internet, especially for Kenyans living in poor and rural areas. Looking at how timely the Google Loon project got the nod from the Kenyan government, one will be forgiven to assume it was because of the current COVID19 pandemic.
The currently available ISPs either lack the infrastructure, were unavailable, or their price packaging was out of reach for many Kenyans. However, with Google balloons floating around and beaming the internet from high up the skies, the signal will cover more ground than cell phone towers.
That means more people, even in far-flung areas, can have an internet connection. It might be an even cheaper connection given Google’s interest might not primarily to monetize the internet service, but instead, get more people hooked to their services and products. Well, conspiracy theorists are saying Google wants to use the project to harvest user data for marketing purposes.