The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network

Zanzibar Islands to be showered with High Speed Internet from the Sky

Imagine fast, reliable Internet Services that remain stable, unthrottled and free from Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority interferences.

Maybe then, it is time to move to Zanzibar and enjoy ‘Marashi ya Pemba!’

Unguja and Pemba Islands as well as the entire surrounding ocean precinct will be fully covered with high-speed, stable and reliable Internet.

Altaeros, the company which makes tethered balloons, in conjunction with blockchain-based telco World Mobile are working to soon launch balloon-based wireless connectivity in Africa, starting with Zanzibar Islands.

Under the agreement, the two companies will launch Altaeros’ Aerostats blimps to provide Internet sky-showered Internet onto Unguja and Pemba Islands on the Indian Ocean.

Zanzibar. High-speed internet from the sky will transform the Islands for the better

Each of Aerostats SuperTowers is capable of covering the same area as around 15 terrestrial cell towers, which means a single balloon should cover most of the Zanzibar’s 1,666 kilometers’ square, Unguja island.

The two companies plan to install 20 mesh sites – local Wi-Fi nodes – to be rolled out by February 2022 and 120 sites during the first six months of 2022, including the first aerostat balloon launch. The roll out will cover approximately 75 percent of Unguja Island.

According to World Mobile (UK) these tethered balloons should be able to provide full internet coverage across the two islands and surrounding islets.

How will it be accomplished?

Well, two solar-powered, helium-filled balloons will be floating 300 meters above land.

Each of the two aircrafts will have a broadcast range of around 70 kilometers radius. This should be more than cover the islands.

Now, the bimps will be using third (3G) and fourth (4G) frequencies to deliver their digital internet signals.

As they float into the atmosphere, the balloons will not be swept away by hurricanes. They can withstand gushing winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour. They also can remain airborne for over two weeks before being landed for fresh refill.

Refilling will take a few hours before the balloons float again. But while two will be down for pumping, the others will remain afloat to shower the Islands with internet. The word is, there will be no blackout.

Signals an aerostat, used as a low altitude platform station (LAPS), should also be sufficient for tasks like internet browsing and email.

And When Exactly?

According to World Mobile, construction is underway for a network of nodes on the ground, each able to provide WiFi for hundreds of people with speeds sufficient for video streaming and gaming. The network comprising 125 locations is scheduled for completion this year, with the first balloon expected to float in June.

The World Mobile Chief Executive, Micky Watkins was quoted by CNN as saying; “Zanzibar represents a really interesting opportunity, with an approximately one and a half million people on the islands. It’s like a small country.”

Fingers are now crossed for June 2022.

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