Empowering users in cellular dead zones with on-demand coverage
Pollen Connect is a concept for a subscription-based iOS app that gives users exclusive access to cell coverage in remote areas, harnessing the reliability of Pollen’s data-only networks in remote areas that major MNOs (mobile network operators) cannot fill.
I owned the design strategy for Pollen Connect, contributed to feature scoping, ran field studies and usability testing, and drove bi-weekly design reviews with the CEO of Pollen
Pollen Connect was slated to launch in September 2023, but production unfortunately came to a halt as the Product Design and Engineering teams were impacted by a workforce reduction.
2 months (Jun – Aug 2023)
Emily Pye – Product Manager
Sridatta Kompella – Engineer
Aaren Stade – Engineer
Tak Mazarura – Engineer
Provision and install an eSIM
Request coverage deployments in dead zones
Track the status of coverage requests
Interactive support features
At a glance...
Major cell carriers cannot fill coverage dead zones
There are numerous locations across the US, including popular tourist destinations, that lack cell service where major MNOs cannot construct new macrocell towers.
Leveraging iOS 17 to extend cell service
A subscription-based mobile app that allows users to supplement their carrier plan with Pollen’s private network, made possible by a new feature in iOS 17.
A premium experience for on-demand coverage
Pollen Connect would be the first consumer-facing product to make use of Apple’s Geofence Activation feature, enabling on-demand coverage in areas with poor service.
Filling coverage gaps
Pollen Mobile had previously identified and began deploying radios in several locations around the US with consistently poor cell coverage, including Hamptons, NY; Sonoma, CA; and Maui, HI. These also happened to be popular tourist destinations, attracting affluent travelers.
Although Pollen had the infrastructure to independently fill dead zones, it wasn't easy to persuade customers to switch their primary carrier from T-Mobile or AT&T to a private network. However, a new feature in iOS 17 sought to address this exact problem.
Geofence Activation on Apple iOS 17
Apple announced a new feature for iOS 17 specifically for private networks like Pollen, called Geofence Activation. This lets users with multiple SIM cards automatically switch from their carrier SIM to a private network SIM upon entering an area with better private network coverage.
This technical unlock positioned Pollen as a supplementary cellular plan for users that want to extend the limited coverage they get from their primary carrier, rather than replacing their carrier altogether.
Premium customers are willing to pay for better coverage, but connecting to Pollen through Apple’s Geofence functionality is tedious.
A white glove service for cellular coverage
To connect users to Pollen’s coverage deployments and streamline the process of setting up Geofence Activation, I designed Pollen Connect, a subscription-based app for premium customers seeking tailored coverage in dead zones