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AMA with Micky Watkins CEO of Worldmobile. June 2 — 2021

Zwijberg:

Welcome @Mr_Telecoms thank you for joining us!

Micky Watkins:

Hi! Great to be here.

Zwijberg:

Honor to have you! Lets waste no time and get started with our questions 🙂

Zwijberg:

@Mr_Telecoms What is your background?

Micky Watkins:

I’ve been in telecoms for approximately 20 years and I’ve spent a lot of that time working with private funds and VC’s to build cutting edge mobile networks, hardware and software that makes telecom more efficient.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

20 years! That is quite some time.

Zwijberg:

What kind of fields have you worked in?

Micky Watkins:

Before WM, I co:founded Yallo, the first VOIP platform of its kind, I have run global minutes businesses at wholesale and retail level and have been using off the shelf equipment to connect rural areas for over 15 years. Most of my life I have been developing solutions and business models that change the way we consume communications.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

That is quite the CV, i’m sure Worldmobile is in great hands.

Zwijberg:

Besides crypto and Worldmobile do you have more hobbies?

Micky Watkins:

I enjoy playing guitar:: really anything with strings. Spending time with my family and friends. I really do love telecoms too.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

A family man, I like that.

Zwijberg:

Now the question that is on everyone’s mind..

Zwijberg:

How do you grow that amazing beard?

Micky Watkins:

I actually shaved recently and intended to grow it back but now I am at that inbetween stage where it’s not really a chad beard yet! Our Creative Director Stian (he’s a Viking) is forever pushing for the return of the beard but then Dicken our Content Director tells me I gotta shave it off everytime we do a shoot. I am stuck between a hard post and a pillar!

Micky Watkins:

The beard will be back though, have no doubts. Possibly post summer.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Maybe we should have a poll some time, let the community decide! Beard or no beard. 😁

Zwijberg:

On to some questions about Worldmobile directly

Zwijberg:

When and why was World Mobile founded, what inspired you?

Micky Watkins:

Ah good question.

Micky Watkins:

It started off as a quest to put the consumer back on level footing with the Mobile Network Operator, to gain our privacy back..

Micky Watkins:

but then I realised it would be extremely hard to disrupt the oligopoly that ran the connected world

Micky Watkins:

I figured that if I could take the World Mobile Chain to people who didn’t have internet then I could enable a new start where people would own their own data and have economic freedom of choice. I looked into where people were least connected and then I discovered half the world was UNCONNECTED, I was shocked!

Micky Watkins:

My research then showed me that big tech companies had been trying to connect the unconnected (to harvest their data of course) and had successfully reached rural areas with off the shelf hardware…

Micky Watkins:

but yet, 3.7bn people were still unconnected. That is when we invented the sharing economy and now we are about to roll it out to millions.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Really shocking. Connecting the unconnected, solving a problem by its roots that is just great!

Zwijberg:

What is your vision for World Mobile? Where do you see Worldmobile in 5 years?

Micky Watkins:

Our sharing economy will take WM to places that no other operator can go.

Micky Watkins:

WM will be a global mobile network operator within 5 years time with a massive footprint in Africa. Potentially, hundreds of millions of subscribers connected and maybe even billions when we get the sharing economy right.

Micky Watkins:

The demand is so high for internet and the sharing economy is the perfect incentive for explosive growth

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Amazing targets will be a joy to see them all get achieved in due time.

Zwijberg:

Why did Worldmobile choose the Cardano platform to launch on?

Micky Watkins:

Who else would we choose?

Micky Watkins:

Cardano has a high assurance and is proven mathematically to work. They’re peer reviewed. They have a fast transaction speed and low fees. They’re formally verified and designed to protect users’ privacy rights and regulator needs. They’re highly secure and designed for long:term sustainability.

Micky Watkins:

We chose Cardano for their Ouroboros consensus mechanism, Plutus smart contract platform, and Atala Prism for digital IDs

Micky Watkins:

As you already know, to bank the unbanked you must first connect the unconnected. So their Atala Prism is essential for creating digital IDs for our users so they can unlock banking.

Micky Watkins:

and of course, they are aligned with a focus on Africa.

Zwijberg:

Seems like a logical choice!

Zwijberg:

How is your relationship with IOHK/Cardano?

Micky Watkins:

Very good! We feel like close friends and have built our relationship over a number of years. We have stable working groups established, shared Slack channels and between our entire team we talk with senior management daily.

Micky Watkins:

even at weekends 🙂

Zwijberg:

That is great to hear there is such synergy between the two parties.

Zwijberg:

What makes Worldmobile different from similar projects such as; Telcoin?

We made this infographic, would you say it is accurate?

Micky Watkins:

[In reply to Zwijberg]

That is a great comparison chart.

Micky Watkins:

Thanks!

Micky Watkins:

What makes us different than Telcoin?

Micky Watkins:

For one, we’re focused on connecting the unconnected through the sharing economy with cost:effective, sustainable connectivity. We also provide our users with decentralised digital IDs to achieve economic freedom. We offer low transaction fees, voice and SMS.

Micky Watkins:

I think there are some things that we have in common, namely that we’re both operational and functional

Micky Watkins:

Ultimately though, Telcoin relies on legacy infrastructure and is trying to disrupt a market that is controlled by an oligopoly and is already over:saturated.

Micky Watkins:

WM is building the infrastructure to open a new world where the future growth markets are.

Micky Watkins:

Telcoin is cool but just one element of what we do.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

That is indeed a fundamental difference. Thank you for the elaboration.

Zwijberg:

When will the World Mobile sale happen, do you have a rough indication? Im sure many people are waiting for this question to be answered.

Micky Watkins:

Ok. Are you ready? We do have an official release date. But you’ll have to join our TG to find out when we announce it…t.me/WorldMobileTeam

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

You heard it people, the official date is set! Be sure to join their Telegram to be the first to know!

t.me/WorldMobileTeam

Zwijberg:

Now some technical questions.

Zwijberg:

How many people are working in the field building networks for World Mobile?

Micky Watkins:

WM Tanzania has a phased approach of rolling out.

Micky Watkins:

At the moment we have approximately 20 engineers and at full scale we will have well over 100 engineers working for us.

Micky Watkins:

At current capacity we can roll out to approximately 600 villages per month

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

That’s huge! great work.

Zwijberg:

Who will take care of the maintenance of on site equipment like network masts?

Micky Watkins:

At the moment, WM Tanzania and its equipment providers/suppliers will be maintaining the network.

Micky Watkins:

As we grow, this function will likely be contracted out to specialist maintenance partners.

Micky Watkins:

Air Nodes will be run by local business owners and entrepreneurs on the ground and they will be rewarded for running and caring for the infrastructure.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

This makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

Zwijberg:

How can people without the internet, ask World Mobile to connect them to the internet?

Micky Watkins:

World Mobile’s rural approach is to first connect farming hubs, cooperative unions, village savings groups etc.

Micky Watkins:

The deep rural unconnected will have the opportunity to tell their peers they also want connection. This is where our sharing economy comes in and WM rewards the rural partners for bringing our attention to these potential new users.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Much like the former question, this also makes a lot of sense.

Zwijberg:

How do people get connected when they have no connection to a central power grid?

Micky Watkins:

An alternative power source will be required — ideally a solar home system.

Micky Watkins:

Or they can go to the nearest Air Node and charge their phone/tablet directly from the device.

Micky Watkins:

Each Air Node is equipped with an oversized solar panel and second life batteries store excess energy.

Micky Watkins:

That energy can then be used as a central power point for the community. We will work with governments and local regulators to support the reselling of power to those who do not have it.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Working with governments, very interesting! Hope you will keep us updated.

Zwijberg:

Is World Mobile actively training people in the countries they are active in?

Micky Watkins:

absolutely.

Micky Watkins:

We are hiring and training in all our different workstreams: development, installation, networking, support, communications. Our jobs page is coming soon, so be sure to check there.

Micky Watkins:

On the node operation side,

Micky Watkins:

As well as the sharing economy, we’ll create all sorts of manuals, tutorials and other material so everybody can learn how to get involved and be part of our network.

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Awesome. That is truly a sharing economy.

Zwijberg:

Now a few questions that came from Worldmobile Reddit

Zwijberg:

How will WM technology evolve, given that satellite internet providers will come sooner or later? And does that mean that with ubiquitous connectivity through the likes of Starlink and others that your business model will become obsolete in the coming years?

Micky Watkins:

We have designed the mobile network to be hardware agnostic where applicable, this means we are very welcoming to new tech advancements.

Micky Watkins:

World Mobile will fill a vacuum by providing all existing connectivity providers with a way to connect unreachable markets while providing big tech companies access to the customers they are looking for

Micky Watkins:

We will not compete with Starlink

Micky Watkins:

When Starlink is ready to offer services in Africa (currently they cannot) we will be delighted.

Micky Watkins:

They will be a great backhaul option for WM

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

Very interesting way to look at it. I like that.

Zwijberg:

Would World Mobile consider making an official way for node operators to donate part of the node rewards to a contract where donations will go 100% to founding air nodes given as a gift to communities?

Micky Watkins:

Definitely.

Micky Watkins:

We are open to suggestions and we also have the community fund.

Micky Watkins:

Please jump into our telegram and contact one of our admins with any of your ideas!

Zwijberg:

[In reply to Micky Watkins]

I’m sure everyone here will 🙂 Thank you

Zwijberg:

What is your plan of mitigating the risk if the smart contract does not come to Cardano on time as promised? Cardano smart contract has been delayed multiple times, so risk is definitely there.

Micky Watkins:

Smart contracts are essential mostly for their transparency, but their functionality can be supplied by the way of traditional applications (even open source).

Micky Watkins:

A delay in smart contracts cannot delay our services.

Micky Watkins:

It can delay, a bit, the transparency on the code executing our services, but eventually smart contracts will be available and all the services that are executed in a centralised application will be converted to smart contracts as soon as they are available.