Breaking Barriers: 8 Revolutionary Ways World Mobile is Connecting the Unconnected
Episode by Peter Bui on June 8th, 2023
In an era where internet connectivity is as essential as electricity and water, the mission of World Mobile stands out as both urgent and noble. World Mobile, with its innovative approach, is not just a telecom company; it’s a movement to bridge the digital divide affecting nearly 3 billion people worldwide. This blog post delves into the heart of World Mobile’s strategy, its impact, and the revolutionary ways it’s changing the face of global connectivity.
The World Mobile Vision: Connectivity for All
World Mobile: A Beacon of Hope in the Digital Dark
For too long, a significant portion of the global population has remained in the shadows of the digital age, cut off from the rest of the world due to the absence of affordable and accessible internet. World Mobile has stepped in to address this disparity, not as a mere challenge but as a responsibility.
The Hybrid Dynamic Network: A Game-Changer
Central to World Mobile’s strategy is its Hybrid Dynamic Network. This innovative approach combines various technologies, including AirNodes, Super AirNodes (Aerostats), High-Altitude Assisted Balloons (HAABs), and satellite connectivity. By leveraging these technologies, World Mobile is able to deliver cost-effective internet services, especially in hard-to-reach areas that traditional telecom companies often overlook.
Watch the interview with the team from MAV100 who are installing community owned AirNodes in the United States.
Expanding Horizons: World Mobile’s Global Impact
Transformative Projects Across Continents
From the shores of Zanzibar to the remote villages of Tanzania, World Mobile has embarked on numerous projects to demonstrate the viability and impact of its technology. In Tanzania, their Smart Village project transformed the local economy and connectivity, showcasing the profound social and economic benefits of internet access.
Empowering Communities with Blockchain Technology
At the heart of World Mobile’s operations is a blockchain-based sharing economy. This innovative model allows individuals and local businesses to own network nodes, creating a decentralized network that benefits everyone involved. By empowering communities to be part of the solution, World Mobile is fostering a sense of ownership and ensuring sustainable growth.
The World Mobile Approach: Inclusivity and Sustainability
Bridging the Gap: From Digital Divide to Digital Inclusion
World Mobile’s approach goes beyond technology. It’s about creating a more inclusive and connected world where everyone has equal access to information, opportunities, and services. By providing affordable connectivity, World Mobile is opening doors for education, healthcare, and economic growth in underserved communities.
Renewable Energy and Cost-Effectiveness
Sustainability is key in World Mobile’s strategy. By using renewable energy sources like solar power for their networks and focusing on cost-effective solutions, they are ensuring that their impact is both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Looking to the Future: World Mobile’s Visionary Roadmap
Expanding Reach and Enhancing Technology
World Mobile’s roadmap is ambitious. With plans to expand their reach to other regions and continuously enhance their technology, they are poised to make an even more significant impact in the years to come. Their commitment to innovation and community empowerment stands as a beacon for what the future of connectivity should look like.
World Mobile is not just a telecom provider; it’s a catalyst for change. By challenging the status quo and innovating for the greater good, they are demonstrating what’s possible when technology meets humanity. As they continue their journey, the world watches with hope, anticipating a future where everyone is connected, empowered, and part of a global community.
World Mobile External Resources
- World Mobile Official Website
- World Mobile Case Studies
- Further Reading: World Mobile’s Technological Innovations
Mickey, welcome to the podcast. Thank you very much for having me on. But let’s get into a little bit of an overview. What are you guys actually trying to achieve with your platform? So there’s a fundamental issue. Around 3 billion people on the planet are not connected. And if we didn’t have the internet, you and I couldn’t have these calls or even the communication, I mean, we could send via pigeon or by seat. But in this modern day, the internet is making it so easy for us to be able to take opportunity into our own hands. Pretty much you can reach anybody.
The problem is three billion people are unconnected. So, and this isn’t just in the developing countries. This is also in countries such as the United States of America, in the United Kingdom, throughout Europe, across Asia, even big parts of Australia where you’re from are not connected because it’s not viable with legacy infrastructure. So on one hand, we’ve remodeled the way that communications is built and works by building a dynamic network, which is an aerial.
network and a ground network. When I say aerial, I don’t mean aerials from radios. I mean, floating blimps, aerostats at 300, 1000 and even higher meters. And on the ground, the coordination happens and you have more typical air nodes, which you can think of as a Wi-Fi router or a licensed spectrum 3G, 4G, 5G tower. So combining all of this is what we believe to be the answer to, or one of the answers, if not the answer to…
the big problem of half the world being unconnected. The global village that is the internet isn’t really a global village. It’s 60% of a global village. So, World Mobile is a new economic model to incentivize people to put up infrastructure where there isn’t any. It taps into one of the biggest markets in the world, if not the biggest market of telecommunications, is multi-trillion dollars. I think $3 trillion that we hit this year. And the growth is immense year on year. So, we’ve built a model that is a sharing economy.
that can take advantage of all these different infrastructures that we’ve been playing with for the last 20 years of our lives. And we’ve brought it all into one funnel to fix the problem of the rural connectivity and the Swiss cheese. We really do take a lot of this for granted. Like you said, we’re just chatting over via a video call here and it just all works.
One of the aspects is what I try to understand on how all these bits and pieces do connect together. Like you have these terms, air nodes, even a ether nodes and aerostats. How does this technology all work? Does it connects the dots to the current infrastructure that we have around the world? Is that correct? Yeah, it’s fully compliant and work seamlessly with existing infrastructure following their protocols. So we can spread it up into three different.
node sections. You’ve got air nodes. Air nodes are the connectivity layer. An air node can be floated on an aerostat at 300 meters, or it can be a small bi-cell unit or femtocell that sat on someone’s side of the wall of their house. Or alternatively, you can have an air node that can be sat on somebody’s roof. So we have about 20 or 30 different models of air nodes, depending on the environment, depending on the foliage, depending on the spectrum that we have available to us.
And that’s the connectivity layer. They’re paid for in Fiat and they’re paid to the owners and the hosts of those air nodes, the people actually running the connectivity layer in Fiat. The token doesn’t touch at this point. The reason for that is regulation. You can’t expect to build a mobile network when the regulation on crypto isn’t quite out and people don’t understand it and governments change their minds every one year or two years on, and all of a sudden, you know, we’re affected by that. It didn’t make any sense.
Also, it doesn’t make sense to give people tokens when you’re in a startup state. You’re just releasing tokens, releasing tokens. Tokens have to be, if we were using tokens, they should be given upon usage of the network, not just to be handed out as an incentive before usage. Otherwise, people do game theory, right? And they work out how to maximize the system rather than the system actually doing what it was meant to do. No names, but there are other telecom sharing economies out there in IoT.
that have maybe made these kind of mistakes. So that’s the connectivity layer, a very simple regulatory compliant, off the shelf and custom hardware that we’ve got that ranges from anywhere between $1,500 all the way up until about $2.5 million depending on the density you wanna connect. Then you’ve got Earthnodes. Earthnodes are the mobile core of World Mobile. So they do stuff like diameter routing, they host the blockchain and the validators, they have storage as a service.
and they have lots of APIs that people can build on top of the EarthNode. Currently, they’re in testing at stage. We’re about to go to testing at V2, and we believe MainNet will be this year, before the end of this year. Certainly, a MainNet functional to actually support our network right now that we have on the ground, and I can go into that later on what we have on the ground. Then there’s the Aether node. The Aether node is very much a regulated node. You have the KYC. It’s a big lot of servers. You install our software on there.
and is the bridge between the legacy world of communications and the world mobile chain. It handles a lot of the proxy stuff. It handles a lot of the voice calling from different protocols. It handles a lot of the routing and then is compliant in the country it’s in, depending on if we need to keep some data or whatever data we have to there. So all of these are community-owned. All of these can be owned from anyone, anywhere, as long as there’s a host to host the infrastructure for you.
And there’s an owner, someone who was to pay for that, CapEx and the infrastructure. And that’s what makes up the sharing economy. And that’s what makes World Mobile very different. It’s a lot of work here. And it’s a really interesting model to incentivize all the people to host all these particular aspects to it. Now, I just want to touch back on the AirNode. So I get the really good understanding of how that works. So an AirNode is basically like a transmitter router that sits up that.
other people can connect to? Is that correct? And then is that one then connected to like a hardwired internet connection elsewhere? Yeah, of course. In Zanzibar, for example, it’s point to point or it’s directly connected via fiber. In Zanzibar, it makes most sense to use Wi-Fi because people’s devices there, they may not be compatible to a certain spectrum. Spectrum is a really expensive subject. It’s a national resource, right? So all the big mobile network operators pay tens of millions of dollars.
for this. So we went for the easiest option, first of all, which was Wi-Fi, which is actually the most compatible option. And then we’re working with sharing spectrum in Zanzibar and Tanzania with other operators, because there’s a lot of spectrum that’s unused. Certainly that the smaller guys are holding. But an air node, depending on the location, depending on how much you want it to penetrate, can run on Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi has limitations, distance, right? That’s the big problem with Wi-Fi. You go 200 meters. Also for cellular,
It doesn’t have good handoff properties. So when you join one node and then you move out of that space of the other node, you may have two and a half seconds where everything will drop, um, even on wifi six. And that’s not good for a telephone call or for, for anything like that. So it’s, it has its own very unique purposes and, and it’s really good as a general, you come to the wifi unit when you’re using license spectrum, which we have in, uh, in several States. And, uh, we also have used, uh, by sharing with other mobile network operators and government.
entities. It’s a different ballgame because you can go somewhere from five kilometers to 15 kilometers and then with our radios and the particular spectrum that we’re using, you can actually hit up 75 to 150 kilometers into the horizon, radio horizon, from an aerostat set of 300 meters, 1000 meters. But if you just think of an anode as the things that you see the telecom companies build the 4G towers and the 3G towers or as a Wi-Fi router, it’s a combination
to big depending on the environment. If you wanted to be the owner of an anode that would cover an entire state of USA or the populous part of a state or a town in a state, then there’s a particular thing that you need. If you wanna just provide connectivity outside of your house in Zanzibar or Kenya for local people who pay online to get online, then it’s a different thing as well. And that’s the beauty of World Mobile is we haven’t come with a one-fit-all approach.
Because the one-foot-all approach doesn’t work. There’s 3 billion people left offline. You can see that, right? Yeah. This, this is really cool. It’s, uh, I always want to understand how those mechanics all worked with there and that range is insane. I was 75. That’s, that’s some of the secret sauce. We’re working with the university of San Diego, uh, we’re working with extremely prominent professors. We have James Tag. He was the inventor of the touch screen telephone. Uh, he was also the inventor of the ECM, first voiceover IP call.
So he’s the, he’s a lot of the innovation behind this. And I’m a lot of the vision behind this, but we’ve managed to build something that not many people have, if anybody has, and it really does fix that rural problem or that huge, you know, that huge expanse that you need to cover. And each one of these aerostats can take between 150 to 250,000 connections. Each one of those is using a blockchain. So if you think that, uh, uh, how many blockchains right now have 250,000 active.
real world users using it every day 25, 30 times a day, there’s not many. So we’re excited on multiple levels. One about being able to fix the unconnected, two about being able to use these in a hybrid way, and three about everyone that connects to this is actually gonna be using or is using the blockchain. I can really see this working incredibly well in rural areas of Australia. It’s just a no brainer. The infrastructure costs to roll out.
fiber optic cables to some of these rural areas. It’s about $10,000, $12,000 per kilometer. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. At 300 meters is a cost factor ratio of 12 to one. And at 1000 meters is around 48 to one. 48 to one. Don’t quote me on the second number, but you can speak to Emmanuel, who’s our chief investment guy. And he manages the numbers, but yeah, it looks like, and if you go even further, it’s multiple hundreds cheaper if you go up to 20,000 kilometers.
The radio equipment that we’re making in the USA is actually destined to go to 20,000 meters, but we’re not going to wait to go to 20,000 meters because that technology, not from us but from other people around the world, is just not sustainable yet. You’ve got units that will go 250 million dollars that will go up into the sky, but they can never come back down. So we’re waiting for something a little bit cheaper to come. We’ve got some partnerships with some companies who are looking to fly something actually
and our payload package will go up there for data purposes and to understand if we can get the reaches that we’re assuming. But you’re looking at about 300 to 400 kilometer radius coverage from 20,000 meters. So in theory, six or seven of these could completely fill the capacity, along with the ground network, but completely cover the entire of the United States of America, or a huge portion of the Serengeti.
and other countries. But then you’ve got a whole new load of regulations that need to come through there. And so we’re working with what we can. And in USA, we’ve got a couple of AeroStats in different places. We’ve got the ground network coordinating in Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Zanzibar, Tanzania. We’ve got the networks up there that are growing. You’ve got one mobile token scan, which you can see the progress. Actually, there’s some stuff missing there that will come on pretty soon.
And then you can see the amount of unique users, the amount of their nodes that have got up. And actually, the network is becoming sustainable. The last two years, we’ve been building it and fine tuning the share in economy. And now, four weeks ago, three weeks ago, we started the first buybacks from the system. Nodes in Zanzibar are making money and a very low average revenue per user. So we’re very excited to see what’s going to happen in Pakistan. Pakistan is the cookie cutter model of world mobile in Zanzibar, except for world mobile isn’t there. So
We have a regulated partner who’s licensed. They’ve took it on the deployment. They’ve took it on the activation, the share in economy, the whole world around World Mobile, what we’ve built in Zanzibar. And we’re about to see that come live on WMT scan over the next days or weeks. And that for me is, even though small, is a massive achievement because everything that I’ve built in Zanzibar and the team have worked so hard.
fine tuning it down to what we think is, you know, is perfect is now out of our hands in the ether gone. Like we don’t have any control of it, right? We can’t turn it on. We can’t turn it off. It’s there. It’s working. It’s generating revenue. So now it’s about bringing that to the United States of America, where regulations are really easy to get all of our trials and all of our things done and actually bring in a commercial network live in the USA. So our first operation,
African continent into the countries that we’re in. That is incredible. The rollout that you guys are doing seems to be at the moment really catching steam and rolling out really fast. So that latest one in New Hampshire, I was watching a video recently of that aerostat going up. That’s like a really big tick of approval there. And then finally entering the US market. You’re making it sound really easy, I should say. It’s pretty easy. Just think of an aerostat as a
What’s not easy is having the experts around you to actually, who know how to use aerostats, who know how to fly. They’re very complex, simple, but complex machines. And they’ve got base stations and ground stations. There’s not many people in the world that know how to run them, mostly from the military. So kind of we’re taking what’s already been proven and robust and working, adding our own payload, IOT and license spectrum and unlicensed spectrum to the bottom of the payload and just whacking it up as a 301,000 meter tower. And so in that sense, it’s really easy.
In the sense that no one’s ever done this commercially before, even though it’s been proven, in that sense, it’s definitely pioneers and pioneers have have challenges along the way, as everybody can see that we’ve had in Zanzibar with the regulator. Recently, we got given the permission from the military to go ahead with no objection. So that was a massive milestone for us. And now we’re waiting again for the regulators to pick up on that and do their part of the of the deal.
So, but in America, those things don’t really exist because there’s many, many situations where people use aerostats or blimps are used or airships are used to football games. So the regulation says anything under 300 meters needs no permission as long as it’s not bang right in front of an airport, because that would just be silly, right? Yeah, that makes sense. So it is easy, that’s what I’m saying. It is a lot easier. It’s been made to look hard because of the Zanzibar mission, but actually we have other African countries in a queue waiting to go. Yeah.
But for us, you know, Zanzibar is very special to us and we want to complete the story there, but ultimately, um, we know we can go and show the world that actually whatever you fear in terms of regulation, um, there’s a lot more countries waiting for this than there are countries not waiting for this. Now there’s the whole aerostat sort of things. I swear Google tried this. envelopes, they use something called Plovers. Um, these were free floating. So.
They’d go up to 20,000 meters. They had some cool X2 payload unit on there that was actually developed by the people that are on our team and working with us, or partially developed. And then they sent it off and they put it up in Kenya and they got permission with one of the Kenya mobile network operators. I think it was Kenya Telecom. And…
Then the balloon floated and it went up and it was fine. And then it went over Tanzania and then it went over Uganda. And then it came back. And this because the huge political storm, because, uh, you can’t have something flying over people’s countries and they don’t know what it is. So Google had a really good idea. Um, they got pretty far, but you can’t control very easily where they go. So if you’ve got someone who’s got a connection and they need to wait eight hours again for that connection, but by the time it’s come back around or, or four hours, it’s useful.
but it’s not really useful, meaningful connections. Like quick, get my stuff done. I don’t know, I missed it, it’s gone. It’s, you know, so we’ve taken the same approach of height, but started at 300 to 1000 meters as opposed to 20,000 meters where we can control everything by ropes. Teethers, almost teethers, we send up fiber optics. So all we need to do is plug in the fiber optic into the trailer, which holds the balloon down. There’s anywhere between two to six men or women at a site.
They, they know how to fly. They control the tethers. They know that if there’s something bad to bring it down and to fix it and to put it back up, which is a very fast process can be as fast as half an hour as, as, uh, as slow as two hours getting it up is very fast. I think it takes off even faster than a jumbo jet for the first. Wow. Uh, it can, if you let go and you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t, if it’s pulling you definitely let go. Cause otherwise you’ll end up very, in 15 seconds, you’ll end up at a thousand meters, right? Okay. So, um,
Yeah, it’s super cool. Super interesting. Now you guys have also launched your global app. And I heard that there was a beta here in Australia as well. It would be really cool to get my hands on that and actually see what it’s I’ll make sure you’re on the list. It’s a very cool app, right? It’s got a in its current version v1 v2 is ready, but it’s that’s been alpha tested right now. But v1 you’ve got
The way to manage a service, which is really important if the network is next to you or you have someone using the network, a child or a friend or a family or whoever it may be, that’s the obvious things that you have. But every user that signs up to the application has a self sovereign identity, they have a DID. So they control as much of the data as we’re allowed to allow the user to control that the regulator doesn’t ask us for. So the regulator has set things, right? And mobile network operators, most people who
using mobile network operator doesn’t really know what the mobile network operator can see what it can’t see, where is your privacy, right? And if you look online, there’s many incidences of mobile network operators having leaks or having bad people inside. And because that information is all visible, it’s not made properly. For privacy, because it’s been made so fast, you know, we took a different a different approach. So we took an approach where privacy is very important. And that starts in the in the mobile application.
And then as you go further down into the mobile application, you’ve got some really good utilities that we need as World Mobile. It’s a game called Scan to Earn. So you’ll press a button and then all the area around you will be scanned by the operator that you have on your phone right now. So if you’re using Optus or Telstra in Australia that’s plugged into your phone, you’ll press Scan to Earn for 15 minutes in the area that you are. It will report back the information, attach it to your digital identity.
And then we will pay you for that information because you’re giving us information that we need and we would have to pay for elsewhere. So it’s kind of bringing this circular economy backgrounds. And in turn, we get very live information. So we can see particularly on this street corner over here, 30 times someone’s passed it. And the last week, is this a problem that the mobile network operator hasn’t fixed an aerial? Is there actually a gap in connectivity? So let’s assess for another week. And then we assess for another week. And now we know, aha, this is definitely an issue. So this is where people’s calls are dropping. This is where an anode can go.
And then we make the business deals with the mobile network operators in order to be able to have you seamlessly making money as an end node operator or an end node host as all the other networks pass, pass your note. Very smart. I, I, I, I, there’s another cool thing in the, in the, in the global app. I mean, I haven’t told you about the VPN yet. That’s soon. I haven’t told you about push to talk. That’s also coming soon. I haven’t told you about the vanity numbers, which will also be coming very, very, very soon and secondary line numbers.
and all very, very concentrated on privacy. But actually there’s the marketplace. So the marketplace is somewhere where you can come, you can onboard your fiat currency for world utility credits as an example. And then you can buy in the marketplace with world utility credits. They’re not on a chain, they’re not a token. They’re an internal token for us or an internal currency for us. And then on the other side, you’ve got the ability inside the store to be able to use your crypto wallet,
crypto multi-wallet backend. So this supports BTC, it supports all EVM, it supports Cardano, of course, it supports all of the other currencies. So now as a user, maybe you don’t want to just use the World Mobile Network or the World Mobile Network’s not next to you today, or maybe you want to use this with an eSIM that you can buy from inside the store. But if you wanted to buy an Amazon voucher, you can come in and you can buy an Amazon voucher using crypto or onboarding your way, because value-added services are really big.
and huge revenue for telecom companies. And of course, all that revenue comes back into the circular economy and gets fed through the nodes and gets fed back into the system. You’re gonna be very excited about this app here, Mickey. Please make sure I’m on that beta list. After this call, I’ll send you the link. Absolutely brilliant, all right. You have my word.
So you mentioned all those various cryptocurrencies in there on the app. And I know that you guys have built a side chain on the Cosmos SDK. Can you talk a little bit about that? And is that why you built a side chain to get that connectivity to other chains? Are you going cross-chain? Like what’s the idea? And it’s always been the idea to be multi-chain. We have, we’re partners with IOHK. So IOHK own equity and actually World Mobile.
early believers and backers and Cardano is a fantastic protocol in terms of decentralization. But what we want to be able to leverage is all the best bits of every of every protocol. But beyond that, beyond working with the different blockchains, it’s also about a shared economy. In order to connect a billion people, which I’ve stood up in front of the United Nations and the GSMA, and said, look, I’m going to do this, this is this is our pledge to society is our pledge to humanity. I’m going to try and connect, you know, a billion people by 2030. It’s a sharing economy that needs to happen.
The shared economy needs to be big and doesn’t need to be constrained by people’s choices of what they think is best or maximalists. And Charles himself is the biggest proponent, the islands. It’s all about multi-chain. That’s how our future is going to grow. It’s not about having individual chains with maximalism and say, okay, this one’s shit and this one’s good and this one does this. It’s about working with everybody. And what is the ethos behind crypto? For some people, it’s, okay, let’s make money.
I think for the majority that joined, it is about the tech. I’m thinking about the memes now, but it is about the vision. It’s about banking the unbanked. If you want to bank the unbanked, you first of all got to connect the unconnected. So strategic, strategic partnerships. But we’re never leaving Cardano. We love Cardano. I’m a very good friend, or Charles and I are very good friends. Our companies work together on a daily basis. We absolutely love what they stand for and the vision and actually watching the delivery happening is amazing.
But going out into other communities and going out and leveraging other technology, it would be an injustice for the unconnected and for world mobile sharing economy for us just to stay in one place because of maximalism. I do see the future being multi-chain. Like if anyone’s using your product and services in the end, they don’t care really what’s, We’re building with IOHK. Charles knows every single step that we’re making. We’re working on it together. It’s something, it should be a huge, it should be a choice of the people, you know.
Which do you want to leverage? All the chains, one chain, just cardano, no problem. Three chains, four chains, what do you want to settle on? We’re not talking about a potential of a million users here at World Mobile or a potential of 10 million users. You’re talking about connecting a billion users, right? You need to have that redundancy. You need to have the best. I say it always and it applies not just to our community, but it implies to everybody. When we walk alone, we walk and we may be strong, right? But when we’re together, we’re unstoppable.
And that’s what it comes down to. So I see that as the eventually, and people like Charles, they’re bringing those communities together, right? And to make our situation better for everybody rather than for just one set group of people. So Mickey, these developments that you guys are doing is absolutely crazy. I absolutely love the project and all the things that you’re trying to deliver or will deliver to connect the unconnected. So it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and finding out a little bit more about what you guys have been up to.
Thanks for inviting me on. Again, I’m glad that we finally got it and I’d love to come on again and tell you all the other things that we’re doing as soon as we’ve got those things achieved. So if anybody wants to find out more, please reach out to me directly. My Twitter inbox is always open or any one of the team members will join our communities. Thank you very much.