EE uses balloon-powered helikite to delivers 4G at Snowdonia biking event

Telecoms giant EE has used its balloon-powered helikite to offer 4G connectivity and broadcast a 360-degree live stream at a biking event in North Wales.

This is the first time that balloon technology has been used to provide mobile connectivity to consumers in a remote location. The technology can provide coverage on demand and in hard to reach places.

The company flew the balloon 300 feet above Machynlleth – which is on the edge of Snowdonia National Park – in a bid to boost 4G coverage and capacity for the Red Bull event.

It saw more than 200 female riders take part in a challenging race course, led by professional Mountain Bike racer Katy Winton. EE provided both 4G and 4G WiFi from the patent-pending ‘air mast’.

With the helikite, EE was able to expand its 4G reach even further. It also provided riders with a charging solution to ensure they were powered up throughout the weekend.

The deployment of this technology was supported by a team of award-winning Ericsson field engineers. They worked with EE’s Special Projects Division during the event.

EE is expanding its 4G network rapidly. It builds and upgrades more than 100 sites every week, and is constantly increasing download speeds and enabling customers to double their data upload speeds to 100Mbps.

Marc Allera, CEO of EE, said: “We have 4G coverage in more places than any other operator and are going to extraordinary lengths to connect communities across the UK, but when we saw the remote location of Red Bull Foxhunt we knew we had to go even further.

“And our ‘air mast’ technology was the perfect solution to provide coverage on demand, keeping everyone at the event connected. This is the first time anywhere in the world that a Helikite ‘air mast’ has been used to provide complete 4G connectivity to consumers, and it’s a sign of how far we’re going to keep everyone connected.”