Technological giants like Google and Facebookhave been trying for years to find ways to provide the Internet to billions of people who still lack a reliable connection. Now, an American initiative has recently emerged, named Telefit. Specifically, Telelift is an attempt to create a “mobile phone tower”. It uses airplanes that are the size of a dining room and are fixed to the ground with a long wire, while according to their 22-year-old manufacturer, Rahul Tiwari, they can remain in the air for at least a month. Rahul Tiwari conceived the idea in the summer of 2017 while studying engineering at Purdue University, Indiana. Its drones hover at 200 feet while connected to solar panels or some ground source, using a power approximately the same as a microwave.
Rahul Tiwari originally wanted his drones to be used as anti-poaching "flying observers" in Africa. However on the way he found that the drones he made could do much more, such as flying for many hours with 4G built-in. routers, so they can transfer and provide the Internet anywhere.
Η Spooky Action Started in Minnesota, it now wants to develop Telelift in areas with low-quality Internet access, starting in African countries such as Kenya, Niger, Botswana and Senegal.
According to GSMA, which represents mobile businesses worldwide, there are about 4 billion people around the world who do not have access to the Internet.
Tiwari plans to work with network providers in the suburbs, where a drone can cover most people, and then they could do the same in more remote areas. He also points out that network providers are willing to pay for such a product as it would be a great offer and a convenience to the world.
As for the cost of the drones, they cost $ 40.000 and are fully automated in flight. However they will have a pilot for take-off and landing, while in some countries there will be more oversight than a pilot.
Spooky Action tested with Verizon (VZ) and Orange (FNCTF), which used Telelift to provide internet at the French National Windsurfing Championships in Quiberon, France in November 2019. It is currently working with the non-profit organization WeRobotics which provides advice to African network providers.
It is worth noting that mobile telephony access is rapidly expanding in sub-Saharan Africa as the internet is extremely important for rural communities. However, maintaining infrastructure in sparsely populated areas is often unprofitable for networks.
The Loon, a work performed by A Google is developing tennis court balloons the size of which fly 12 miles and can provide internet within a 25 mile radius. In 2018, Loon announced that it is working with Telkom of Kenya to provide internet in central Kenya.
Gokhan Inalhan, Professor of Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence at Cranfield University, UK, told CNN that Telelift appears to be an "excellent product" for emergency response or search and rescue services. But he adds that continued use could cause problems in extreme conditions. This will require improved drones engines and materials to be able to cope with the ongoing heat in Africa. Finally, Tiwari says that while some of its components are out of service, the moving parts it uses are specially designed to be durable - and even though they should be able to fly indefinitely, some drones will land those times of the day where there is less demand for the Internet.