AT&T Partners with Loon on Balloons for Disaster Response
Thursday, May 07, 2020 | Comments

Loon announced a global collaboration with AT&T that the company said will allow it to respond more quickly and effectively to disasters worldwide. Loon offers a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space to enhance communications connectivity.

Under the partnership, executives integrated the Loon system with AT&T’s network. The network integration will extend to AT&T’s partners around the world, meaning Loon will be able to provide service to a third-party mobile operator, assuming they have a standard international roaming relationship with AT&T.

While coordination with a local operator will be crucial, Loon’s ability to leverage the AT&T network vastly expands the number of operators around the world that Loon can work with without having to complete time-intensive network integration for each one. In a disaster scenario, this will save valuable time and enable Loon to simultaneously serve several, if not all, the mobile operators in a market.

“At AT&T, delivering reliable connections is central to our mission,” said JR Wilson, AT&T vice president of tower strategy and roaming. “So in situations when disaster strikes — and our customers need connection more than ever — rapidly restoring communications is critical. We’re pleased to work with Loon to make this an ongoing reality for customers around the world.”

While this pairing will greatly simplify the network integration element of Loon’s disaster response, there is still work needed on government approvals and ground infrastructure installation to better respond to more disaster scenarios.

In the past few months, Loon secured approvals to fly over additional countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Malawi, and Lesotho. This brings to more than 50 the total number of countries and regions where Loon has approval to fly over. And with hurricane season approaching in the Caribbean, the company is working to strategically install ground stations in the region to reach more countries in a time of need.

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