World Mobile tests balloon to deliver telecom service in Mozambique

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Blockchain-powered telecommunications firm World Mobile will use a tethered, lighter-than-air balloon, known as an aerostat, to deliver internet and other mobile services in Mozambique. The pilot project is being implemented in partnership with Vodacom Mozambique.

The project began in November, but the first call using the technology was placed on Dec. 19. The aerostat is positioned 300 meters (984 feet) off the ground and contains telecom equipment capable of connecting 100,000 users, according to an announcement.

The World Mobile aerostat. Source: World Mobile

The World Mobile aerostat, which was provided by a third party, was described as the world’s first commercial aerostat. It is unpowered and provides connectivity at a rate comparable to a high-speed fiber optics connection.

World Mobile currently has 60,000 paying customers in Africa. Its CEO, Micky Watkins, said:

“This technology is not just cost-effective compared to legacy telecom infrastructure but also quick to deploy, making it ideal for remote regions.”

Vodacom Mozambique, a subsidiary of global telecom Vodafone, provided spectrum and resources.

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World Mobile has utilized unused television spectrum and Starlink technology in previous field tests in Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria. It has also worked with IOHK on mesh networks in Tanzania.

World Mobile uses an economic model that rewards operators of its AirNodes technical equipment in fiat, while blockchain node operators, stakers and users staking for discounted services earn World Mobile Token (WMT) on its decentralized physical infrastructure network on Cardano.

World Mobile launched its app on Google Play for users in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Tanzania on Aug. 22. The app is also available in Zanzibar.

Competitor Safaricom M-Pesa Mobile Financial Service received a mobile money-service license in Ethiopia in May. M-Pesa is available in nine other African countries as well.

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