UPDATE HAPSmobile, the unmanned aircraft that cruises the stratosphere, has completed development on the drone’s ability to carry a communications payload in its solar powered hull, reports AviationPros.com. The technological brainchild of Alphabet Loon and SoftBank Corp, the HAPS features a custom-designed LTE system that coordinates available 3GPP-compliant frequency bands. The drone’s payload creates a wireless link that is able to power LTE connectivity straight to standard LTE mobile devices like smartphones.
Using atmospheric balloons as their starting point, the HAPSmobile team set to work using their combined resources to design a system to match the new aircraft’s expanded range. The goal is to allow the unit to operate as a sky high cell tower.
The stratospheric cell tower incorporates millimeter wave communication with backhaul links to connect the HAPSmobile to an earthbound internet system. It also aims to allow multiple stratospheric units to connect with one another in orbit.
“We are very pleased that our strategic relationship with Loon is already bearing fruit,” said SoftBank executive Junichi Miyakawa. “Our jointly developed communications payload represents an important step forward in our efforts to realize stratosphere-based communications and promote the adoption of HAPS. In partnership with Loon, we will continue to develop technologies for HAPS with the aim of revolutionizing the world’s mobile networks.”