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March 6, 2017updated 12 Aug 2019 3:03pm

4G coverage in the UK is about to get a boost from drones and balloons

By GlobalData Technology

Mobile network EE is planning to use drones, balloons, and trucks in order to cover problematic network black spots around the UK.

The BT-owned network boasts the broadest 4G network coverage in the country (covering 95 percent of population in July 2016).

It’s hoping the tech will improve network quality during large events such as the Glastonbury Festival where the company expects to launch its first 4G drone.

Why balloons and drones?

Balloons and drones are a cheaper, and more easily deployed than traditional network masts, though they are not designed for permanent or long-term use.

Importantly however 4G balloons and drones do still require approvals from Ofcom, the UK’s regulatory and competition authority, and the Civil Aviation Authority, meaning they can’t be thrown up with little notice.

Use of 4G is growing rapidly and telecom companies are rushing to stay ahead of demand, especially from people who are using network data for music and video streaming.

4G is estimated to have a 53.9 percent share of total mobile subscriptions in 2016, rising further to 79.3 percent by end-2021, according to GlobalData’s 4G Commercial Strategies in Europe report.