Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
2 minute read
15 Jan 2022
9:03 am

‘Floating cellular tower’ to bring Tanzania and Pemba online

Narissa Subramoney

Solar powered helium-filled balloons or airships function as floating cellular towers that can bring far flung rural areas online.

World Mobile Group is planning to bring the poorest parts of Africa online by building ‘floating cellular towers’ in the skies.

The global mobile network is using solar-powered helium-filled balloons or air/ships to bring Tanzania and Pemba online.

World Mobile Group specialises in combining renewable energy with blockchain technology for connectivity.

Floating cellular towers

Bridging the great digital divide

Tanzania is pinning its hopes on this combined technology to improve internet connection countrywide while bringing more citizens online.

The country is plagued by vast low levels of digital literacy, compounded by high data costs.

Traditional mobile networks won’t connect remote places because it’s too expensive and hard to maintain.

The company is filling the gaps in poorer economies like the Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, where both FB’s Project Aquila and Alphabet’s Project Loon have reportedly failed to deliver.

World Mobile Group is now launching a hybrid network in partnership with Altaeros, creator of an advanced autonomous control system for tethered aerostats, to provide near-blanket coverage across the African islands of Zanzibar and Pemba in Tanzania.

Two solar-powered, helium-filled balloons will float 300 meters above land with a broadcast range of around 70km apiece.

The balloons use 3G and 4G frequencies to deliver their signal and can survive winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour while remaining airborne for up to two weeks before descending for refilling.

The balloons use 3G and 4G frequencies to deliver their signal and can survive winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour while remaining airborne for up to two weeks before descending for refilling. Picture – Supplied.

While it refills, other aerostats remain airborne, ensuring users are never without service, said World Mobile Group.

Once the project is fully operational in Zanzibar, World Mobile is planning to expand to Kenya, with another 18 countries in its system’s sights.

“We will deploy our first two aerostats to connect hundreds of thousands of people to our blockchain in 2022. Each subscriber on our network will automatically create a wallet,” said World Mobile Group CEO and founder Micky Watkins.

“Our dynamic network is capable of connecting millions and millions of people across the continent and we can truly be a pioneer in aiding to connect the unconnected, changing the face of poverty, healthcare and education.”

Globally there are over 3 billion people unbanked and the World Mobile’s ‘sharing economy’ powered by the World Mobile Token will be the first true enabler to allow those who want to ‘bank the unbanked’ to access them.

“What we are witnessing is the seamless mass adoption of blockchain technology,” Watkins.

Unlocking this potential is important for society at large, but especially for the growing youth population seeking jobs and opportunities.’

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