Drones and giant balloons set to deliver 4G signal to areas without connectivity

February 2, 2017

EE has recently announced that it will be deploying what they are calling ‘Air masts’ to deliver mobile connectivity to areas where there is little to no connectivity for people on the ground.

The most obvious use for this technology would be to provide areas hit by disasters such as flooding or earthquakes. The service would provide crucial connectivity for people that may need to contact the emergency services or to let their loved ones know that they are safe.

It would also be fair to say that beyond disaster zones, this technology will most probably be used in areas of the world that have poor existing network infrastructure, and will boost EE’s customer base significantly.

Drones

EE have announced that they will be using drones which are able to provide connectivity within 15 minutes of being in position.

These drones will be able to manoeuvre to hard-to-reach areas and provide a service for up to an hour.

Balloons

EE have also announced the introduction of an alternative sky-based network solution called the ‘Helikite’, which is able to be deployed from the back of a truck.

The way the Helikite works is the truck drives to the required destination and the balloon is raised into the air by being filled with helium and tethered to the vehicle. The connection to the truck also provides the power to the modules within the balloon.

Once in flight, the balloon reaches a height of approximately 300 feet and is able to remain in position for up to a month. It connects via satellite to provide 4G coverage.

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