World Mobile Token is a token on the Cardano network and part of the World Mobile project. In short, they are building infrastructure for telecommunications using three types of nodes. It starts with air nodes, which locally receive signals (50-100m range for the simplest versions, but also air nodes with several km range). These are then connected to the general telecom network in the country through aether nodes (you can read more about aether nodes in the whitepaper) that will be operated by professional telecom operators. Lastly, there are earth nodes that process data from air and aether nodes and validate the blockchain. World Mobile also plans to handle data traffic from other telecom operators through partnership agreements.
World Mobile has two stated goals: providing connection to those who do not have it today and providing digital identity to those who cannot access it. As of now, everything is in the testing phase and they have, as of the time of this article, 247 air nodes in Zanzibar with 21061 unique users and around 2TB of data traffic, which can be tracked on wmtscan.com. In addition to the test pilot in Zanzibar, World Mobile has announced that it will put infrastructure in place in parts of the US that lack coverage and has recently launched a dedicated website for this at https://worldmobile.us/.
It is an ambitious and risky project, but it is also a trend seen on other blockchains, such as Helium and something that larger players like Facebook and Google have looked at. World Mobile is actually using some of the knowledge from Google's Loon project, which uses air balloons (aerostats) to cover a larger area with internet access.
Currently, World Mobile has just entered the first testnet phase, which involves a sidechain to Cardano called Ayad that is built on Cosmos SDK. NBX is participating in this testnet as one of the first nodes and the startup was at the end of december 2022. The plan is to move data to the sidechain and keep financial transactions on the mainchain (Cardano). It is not yet possible to stake World Mobile on the testnet for rewards. There is still a long way from these initial testnets to a finished product that can be launched on mainnet, but it is still promising to see the development. Coincidentally, Cardano has recently launched a tool to launch its own sidechains on Cardano. There is no doubt that one of the solutions for increasing scalability of data traffic is to use sidechains. Charles, CEO and cofunder of IOHK, has also been positive about World Mobile and is part of Cardano's focus on real-fi, meaning projects that not only look at decentralized finance but also have a real impact on people's quality of life and opportunities, which access to internet and telephony can provide. NBX is closely following the development of World Mobile and is one of several projects we are considering offering passive savings in exchange for validation of the blockchain. While we wait for further development let's just say "let it node let it node" and hope that the good development continues in 2023 as well.