EE Plots Drones to Blanket UK for 4G

Communications drones could be flying over England's green and pleasant land in years to come if mobile operator EE has its way.

EE said that it plans to use what it calls "air masts" in its "Signalling The Future" manifesto, which lays out the UK mobile operator's $2.3 billion plans to extend its 4G LTE coverage to 99% of the UK population by 2017. (See Eurobites: EE Invests in Rural 4G Rollout.)

The operator could use tethered ballons or drones to add rural coverage at lower costs than deploying cell towers. The operator describes the air masts as "essentially aerial small cells positioned in the sky above a hard-to-reach areas."

Watching the skies? Keep up with our drone coverage on the IoT channel on Light Reading.

EE is one of the first service providers to go public with future coverage plans centered around unmanned vehicles. Such blue-sky thinking has so far been the domain of tech giants like Facebook and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). (See Forget the Internet, Brace for Skynet and Facebook, Google in New Drone Race.)

However, Australian operator Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) is helping Google with its "Project Loon," which aims to deliver Internet from the sky via balloons. (See Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks and The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?.)

Of course, we don't know how these plans might change if and when BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) completes its $19.1 billion buyout of EE. (See BT Locks Down £12.5B EE Takeover Deal.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Gabriel Brown 2/13/2015 | 1:02:50 PM
Re: Blanket? Come off it.... Speaking of high-end literature for the educated classes, I live near where, aged 10, Wiliam Blake claimed to have seen "a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars." Trufax.

He's famous around these parts of London, which are no longer as green as they once were.
Liz Lloyd 2/13/2015 | 1:27:45 PM
Re: Blanket? Come off it.... And I live in the middle of nowhere in Yorkshire and already have EE 4G in them there 'ills....
DanJones 2/13/2015 | 1:58:47 PM
Re: Blanket? Come off it.... Yeah, I know, I used to live on Lambeth Walk.
DHagar 2/13/2015 | 4:07:07 PM
Re: Blanket? come off it.. Liz Lloyd, interesting.  Are you satisfied with it?

So you have the best of both worlds - green hills and "connectivity"!
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