World Mobile announces plans for balloon-powered cellular network in Zanzibar

Wednesday 01-12-2021 10:20

Telecom Global mobile announced the launch of a hybrid mobile network supported by low-altitude platform balloons in Zanzibar, with plans to roll out the service, bringing reliable mobile internet to more people at lower cost, across the African continent .

World Mobile’s balloons will be the first to be officially launched in Africa for commercial purposes, offering a more cost-effective way of providing a digital connection to people compared to deploying existing internet infrastructure. Remote-controlled aerostat balloons are powered by solar panels, inflated with helium and attached to the ground. Once in flight, they act as floating cellular base stations transmitting radio signals to ground stations and personal devices.

The project – the first since a successful $40m (£30m) fundraising – will provide coverage and access to the digital economy to over a million people in Zanzibar by completion of 2023. World Mobile has already reached agreements with the Zanzibar government. to provide connectivity to 300 schools, and a four-step plan is in place to unlock Zanzibar’s blue economy, across all maritime industries.

This rollout is the first step in World Mobile’s mission to bring nearly 4 billion people online by 2030, in line with the UN and World Bank’s Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations data shows that almost half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of whom are women, and most of them in developing countries, are still offline.

Beyond Zanzibar, World Mobile is in talks with government officials in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserved by traditional mobile operators. It plans to have 20 mesh sites – local wi-fi nodes – deployed by January 2022, and 120 sites in the first six months of 2022, including the first aerostat balloon launch.

The deployment will cover approximately 75% of Unguja Island and provide access to the wider digital economy, including communications, e-commerce, finance, health and education for the 896,000 inhabitants of the island. Isle.

“We want to help create a world where everyone can access affordable connectivity, a world where economic freedom is a truth, and a world where people can seize the opportunities created by the internet,” said World Mobile CEO Micky Watkins. “Zanzibar will become the world’s first smart region powered by World Mobile, connecting businesses, schools and society as a whole.