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EE unveils ‘revolutionary’ air mast technology

Alex Yau
February 21, 2017

The balloons have been designed to deliver 4G to areas in the UK with little or no mobile coverage

EE has unveiled ‘revolutionary’ new air mast technology designed to connect remote areas in the UK and keep communities connected in the event of any major disaster.

The operator revealed the technology at the Oval Cricket Ground in London today (February 21). Called ‘Helikites,’ each balloon is powered by helium and can accommodate mini masts used to provide mobile coverage to areas with little or no 4G reception.

EE also showed off a range of drones equipped with mobile base stations and antennas, which have been designed for use in search and rescue operations. Both devices are currently in patent-pending status, with expected deployment of the balloons in a rural environment later this year.

The operator also announced it would be deploying a fleet of rapid response vehicles to support the new Emergency Services Network (ESN). EE had won the contract to support the voice and data network for the ESN from incumbent Motorola Solutions at the end of 2015.

EE CEO Marc Allera said: “Rural parts of the UK provide more challenges to mobile coverage than anywhere else, so we have to work harder there – developing these technologies will ultimately help our customers, even in the most hard to reach areas.

“Looking ahead, I see innovations like this revolutionising the way people connect. In the future, why couldn’t an event organiser request a temporary EE capacity increase in a rural area, or a climber going up Ben Nevis order an EE aerial coverage solution to follow them as they climb?”

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