EE are set to launch a fleet of blimps and drones to bring mobile phone and wireless broadband coverage to remote locations.
The mobile network provider says the fleet of helikites (mobile broadcast sites tethered to helium balloons) will bring phone signal and wi-fi to remote communities when usual services are down for any reason, and a similar drone service is also set to be implemented in the future.
EE’s CEO Marc Allera has stated that the balloons and drones could also be used to boost mobile and wi-fi signal at major events and venues, such as festivals and stadiums. However, such a project is not yet guaranteed to be implemented due to the potential issues that could crop up due to airspace regulations.
According to EE, the helikite balloons can stay airborne for up to a month and have a signal radius of up to 5km, making them an ideal solution for ensuring coverage in the case of natural disasters and events. The drones, however, can only stay in the air for a few hours at the time, which would make them better suited to shorter operations such as search and rescue missions.
EE’s helikite service is set to launch later this year, with a date for the accompanying drone project not yet known.