EE float balloons and drones to boost 4G mobile blackspots

EE float balloons and drones to boost 4G mobile blackspots

Wednesday, 1 March, 2017

EE is looking to the skies for next stage of its 4G coverage journey. Mini mobile sites attached to huge helium balloons – dubbed ‘Helikites’ – will be floated up in the air to provide 4G mobile coverage in rural areas or where permanent EE sites have been damaged.

Tiny drones, or mobile ‘air masts’, will also be fixed with an EE basestation and antenna and then flown up to provide targeted coverage for individual areas.

EE drone airmast 4G mobile

EE said the move could help keep more rural communities stay online in the event of a localised disaster, such as flooding. EE claims it now provides coverage for 92% of the UK.

Britain’s biggest mobile phone operator was bought out for £12.5bn by telecoms giant BT in August 2016.

EE CEO Mark Allera said his teams were “going to extraordinary lengths to connect communities across the UK”.

EE rural broadband 4G

“Rural parts of the UK provide more challenges to mobile coverage than anywhere else, so we have to work harder there,” he said.

“Looking ahead, I see innovations like this revolutionising the way people connect.”

Both the Helikite balloon and mobile drone air mast technologies are patent-pending, said Allera.

EE to float balloons and drones to boost 4G mobile blackspots 7

In a bid to boost signal strength and reliability EE is upgrading 100 sites a week to 4G.

It has plans to roll out a further 3,000 sites which use a low-frequency 800Mhz spectrum which should improve connections to mobile phones indoors and in more remote places.

The firm says it expects to deploy the Helikite balloons in rural areas by the end of 2017.

Tom Rodgers author picture

By:

Tom is a tech journalist and former Editor at BroadbandDeals.co.uk.

News What's the story?

Keep up with the latest developments in UK broadband.

Why is the UK worried about Huawei and what does this mean for 5G?

The Huawei controversy continues as Boris Johnson says we ‘will not risk British security”.

Why is the UK worried about Huawei and what does this mean for 5G?Why is the UK worried about Huawei and what does this mean for 5G? Read more

Unmissable streaming TV shows for 2020

Telly has moved online - let's dive in to the most bingeworthy releases due this year!

Read more

The most complained about home broadband services

Who's failing to live up to expectations?

Read more

Brits spend up to 4.9 hours surfing the web at work!

Read more

Help Learn with us

Make the most of the internet with our broadband library.

What are the differences between HD, UHD, 4K and 8K?

What are the differences between HD, UHD, 4K and 8K?What are the differences between HD, UHD, 4K and 8K? Read more

How far can augmented reality take us?

Read more

Keeping the Internet of Things secure

Read more

The best broadband routers for 2020

Read more