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Creating a “Flying Cellphone Tower” for Africa

Telelift uses drones the size of a dining table, which are attached to the ground by a long wire and, according to their maker, can stay in the air for at least a month. Tiwari initially intended his drones to be used as anti-poaching “flying watchtowers” in Africa, but when he spoke to industry insiders, he saw a bigger potential. His Minnesota-based startup Spooky Action now wants to deploy Telelift in areas with poor internet coverage, beginning in Kenya, Niger, Botswana and Senegal. Mobile access is growing quickly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and internet is central to improving opportunities in rural communities, according to a report from GSMA. But maintaining infrastructure in sparsely populated areas is often uneconomical for networks.