Up, up and away for EE: balloons will boost your phone reception

Up, up and away for EE: how balloons will boost your phone reception
They probably won't look like this

What's that in the sky? Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's EE's new floating mobile mast. Umm, what?

It sounds bizarre, but EE has confirmed it will starting exploring what it's calling "Air Masts" to help bridge the gaps in coverage in hard-to-reach areas around the UK.

These Air Masts are essentially small cell networks floating in the sky, tethered to either balloons or unmanned crafts.

It's reminiscent of Google's Project Loon, which aims to deliver LTE connectivity via a series of internet carrying balloons.

There are no details on when we may see the Air Masts take to our skies, but we're intrigued as to how they will look, and they could be the perfect answer to those pesky signal blackspots.

98% Coverage

EE says it will have 98% of the population covered by its 4G network by the end of 2015, so the Air Masts could well be with us in the coming months.

The network had originally pledged 98% 4G coverage by the end of 2014, but an EE spokesperson told TechRadar "much changed since we made that claim, notably the announcement of the annual license fees from Ofcom."

"This affected 4G roll out investment significantly, and we announced we'd have to climb back from original ambition."

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.