Communications

New research reveals extent of poor connectivity

30th November 2022
Beth Floyd

World Mobile has successfully completed its low earth orbit (LEO) satellites pilot test in the UK to provide efficient and affordable internet connectivity to Pencarnan Farm, a remote caravan site in Wales.

The company, which was founded in 2018, aims to provide affordable connectivity to rural and remote areas worldwide.

In the UK, over half a million people claim to have no fixed-line connectivity where they live, and another 1.58 million say their connectivity is poor or very poor. This has a major impact on people’s lives. World Mobile’s study found that 25% of people in the UK who cannot get internet access say it has a negative impact on their lives, including feeling lonely, becoming depressed, or not being able to get the work they want.

Around 6% of people say they have moved house in the past 10 years partly to get better internet access, while one in 20 say they plan to move house in the next five years partly because of connectivity issues.

World Mobile’s deployment pilot on the Pembrokeshire coast tested the use of Starlink’s satellite network as a backhaul option for providing internet to World Mobile’s AirNodes (the network’s internet access points). The connection delivered impressive broadband speeds, latency, and stable connectivity with download speeds of up to 400Mbps. When integrated with World Mobile’s network, the connection was transmitted to all outdoor areas of Pencarnan Farm as well as businesses and guests through mesh Wi-Fi connectivity.

Satellite internet constellations are among the many backhaul technologies available to World Mobile’s network, which adapts its connectivity infrastructure to the needs of each region, allowing it to deliver efficient and affordable connectivity where other mobile operators cannot reach.

Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile, shared, “We are pleased to have successfully conducted our first pilot test using Starlink’s satellite constellation together with World Mobile’s infrastructure to connect Pencarnan Farm in Wales. World Mobile is a unique and dynamic network that uses a wide range of technologies and a powerful sharing economy to deliver affordable and efficient internet access where it is needed most.”

Sian Richardson, Owner of Pencarnan Farm, shared, “We love where we live and work, but we have always had extremely poor connectivity and some days none. We often must travel to areas where there is connectivity to do our work, and of course having poor Wi-Fi can also be very frustrating for our guests and customers.

Richardson added: "The World Mobile system was up and running within a matter of days and the Wi-Fi connection it provided was strong and dependable. Having this permanently will have a huge positive impact on our lives and business.”

World Mobile is considering running similar pilot tests elsewhere in the UK, as its new research reveals over 520,000 people claim they don’t have access to fixed internet connectivity where they live.

Watkins added: “We will conduct further pilot tests to see how we can potentially incorporate satellite internet constellations into our offering. We have no immediate plans to launch in the UK but given that so many people here have no connectivity or very poor Wi-Fi, we would not rule this out in the future.”

World Mobile is targeting areas where there is no or poor connectivity and aims to provide internet access to the 2.7 billion people who are unconnected globally. To this end, the company pledged to connect 1 billion people by 2030 at the International Telecommunication Union’s WTDC conference in Rwanda earlier this year.

It aims to deliver affordable and more efficient global connectivity through its dynamic network model, supported by aerostats and a range of technologies including mesh networking, hybrid spectrum, renewable energy, and blockchain.

The UK-headquartered company is currently rolling out a major deployment to connect the island of Zanzibar and is in advanced-stage discussions with several governments and local authorities in Africa to expand its coverage to other regions.

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