Cambridge Consultants announced on November 2, “a visionary program to realize the dream of superfast 5G for everyone and everything across the globe.” In collaboration with U.K. start-up Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL), Cambridge Consultants has developed what it says is a unique wireless antenna delivering affordable connectivity from a fleet of zero-emissions aircraft, reported sUAS News. The technology is poised to be the world’s largest commercial airborne communications antenna.
SPL Chief Executive Officer Richard Deakin said: “This unique antenna is at the heart of SPL’s stratospheric communications system. It was essential that we overcame significant technical challenges in the design of the antenna to enable us to deliver massive data rates in a unique environment where power was limited, where weight was critical, and where cooling in the thin, stratospheric air was difficult.”
He added, “The development and testing of the antenna has met or exceeded the design criteria, and working with such a talented team at Cambridge Consultants has been one of the highlights of the program to date.”
The fleet will be airborne at over 65,000 feet for over a week and operate at a fraction of what it costs building and maintaining earthbound infrastructure. With zero-emission, the impact on the environment with its hydrogen power system will be minimal — low noise, zero CO2, and zero NOx emissions, according to sUAS News.
The “the ultimate antenna is set to be powerful, huge, and yet lightweight,” state the companies. It measures just under 10-square-feet, weighs approximately 264 pounds and can provide coverage to an area up to 87 miles in diameter.
SPL’s High-Altitude Platform (HAP) and communication system could blanket the United Kingdom with connectivity, providing even geographic coverage of peak 5G speeds above 100 Gbps in aggregate, reported sUAS News. It would take a fleet of 60 HAPs to offer the range mentioned above.
Tim Fowler, Chief Sales Officer at Cambridge Consultants, said: “Four years ago SPL approached Cambridge Consultants with an ambitious vision: to revolutionize the telecoms experience by beaming connectivity from the sky. Our role, to design and build this ‘mega cell tower in the stratosphere,’ has seen us make breakthrough after breakthrough, and we’re excited to build on these innovations with SPL, on the path to commercial deployment.”
The advanced engineering of the antenna “produces 480 individual, steerable beams, creating patterns that can be ‘painted’ onto the ground to cover specific areas such as roads, railway lines, or shipping lanes,” reported sUAS News. SPL announced the first successful test in October, and is expected to roll out commercial service in Germany by 2024.
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