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EE uses balloon mast to provide 4G coverage at Welsh cycling event

Wednesday, October 11th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

EE has used a mobile mast attached to a balloon to provide 4G coverage to a mountain biking event in rural Wales.

The Helikite air mast was used to broadcast a 360-degree live stream over 4G and provide free wi-fi to riders and spectators at the Red Bull Foxhunt event near Machynlleth on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park.

EE first demonstrated its Helikite – a mini mast known as a small cell attached tot a helium balloon – earlier this year.

It says the technology will be able to provide wide-area coverage in not-spots and where existing masts have been damaged.

The Red Bull event represented the Helikite’s first commercial outing and a new test for the technology.

More than 200 riders and hundreds of spectators used 4G and wi-fi thanks to the balloon and cycling Instagram star Juliet Elliot live streamed her practice run on EE’s Facebook page.

EE chief executive Marc Allera said: “We have 4G coverage in more places than any other operator and are going to extraordinary lengths to connect communities across the UK.

“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.”

EE said it is building and upgrading more than 100 masts to 4G every week, improving capacity, coverage and signal strength across its network.

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