World Mobile accelerates rollout in Africa

1st December 2022
Kiera Sowery

World Mobile is expanding its network across the African continent following a series of successful pilot tests using low earth orbit (LEO) satellites in the US and UK. Positive results have been found in ongoing tests of Starlink, one of the many LEO satellites.

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

The African continent alone currently sees less than a quarter the population with access to reliable internet. Using innovative satellite and relay technology with stratospheric balloons, its first efforts are looking to provide connectivity in hard-to-reach areas within Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria. 

World Mobile’s pilot 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.

Satellite internet constellations are among the many backhaul technologies available to World Mobile’s dynamic 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.

The pilot tests conducted by World Mobile and its partners demonstrated that remote connectivity with the LEO satellite, which serves as a constellation network connecting World Mobile's AirNodes, can provide robust Wi-Fi services.

Sian Richardson, owner of Pencarnan Farm, which was connected through one of the pilot tests, shared: “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.” 

Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile, reiterated: “It is extremely encouraging to see that our technology and infrastructure works well with Starlink. We will conduct further pilot tests using other LEO solutions to see how we can potentially incorporate satellite internet constellations into our offering. They have the potential to dramatically enhance our proposition and accelerate our global rollout.”

In Zanzibar, an archipelago of 1.9 million people, where the average income is USD 1,000 per year, World Mobile is targeting areas where there is minimal or no connectivity. It is underway in deploying its hybrid mesh network to deliver affordable mobile connectivity in the region through a network of AirNodes and aerostats with a coverage radius of up to 70 km.  In addition to rolling out in Tanzania and Kenya, World Mobile is in advanced talks about expanding its network to other African countries, such as Mozambique and Nigeria.

The company's unique offering provides low-cost connectivity in areas that traditional operators cannot reach, while also enabling entrepreneurs to own or operate a portion of the network and benefit from its adoption. The company expects further tests with other LEO satellite systems will enable services to roll out more efficiently across sub-Saharan Africa. World Mobile plans to bring the available LEO satellites and its blockchain-based mobile network to the unconnected. There are an estimated 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.

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