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4G balloons set to revolutionise coverage

Air balloon

BT has demonstrated how pioneering 4G balloons and drones can connect customers and help rescue teams in rural areas. An event in London to showcase the mobile air masts was attended by members of parliament and representatives from government departments.

EE’s network team showed how mini mobile sites attached to helium -powered balloons – called Helikites – can provide wide area 4G coverage. They provide communications when permanent sites have been damaged or where there’s no 4G coverage. BT also showed how drones equipped with mini sites – including a base station and antennas – can deliver targeted coverage during search and rescue operations. The small cells are connected back into the EE network over satellite or 4G spectrum. This makes calls and internet access possible in remote areas and after disasters such as major flooding.

EE expects to deploy the first balloons in rural areas this year, and Marc Allera (Chief Executive Officer EE) sees them playing a key role in our future. He sees innovations like this revolutionising the way people connect. “In the future, why couldn’t a climber going up Ben Nevis order an EE aerial coverage solution to follow them as they climb? We need to innovate, and we need to think differently, using customers’ needs to drive the way we create new technologies."