Broadband connection using an electric plane in the stratosphere

Despite the fact that today we think that we are all connected to the Internet, there are more than 3,000 million people who live in sparsely populated areas and have connecting problems. And that is why there are so many satellite systems projects to offer broadband Internet connection.

But there have been others, including Google, that tried to offer this service from balloons flying at high altitude (Project Loon) and they got to carry out real tests with some success; But for whatever reason, the Project was never implemented as a business.

Another project a little different is the one that I comment today, it is the HAPS and it is a flying wing 78 meters long and 10 electric motors to keep it in flight. It flies in the lower part of the stratosphere (about 20 km high), and is powered by batteries and solar cells so it can stay in flight for more than a month.

The investment group SoftBank and Alphabet Loon participate in this project, contributing their technology and previous experience.

In their test, the flight lasted more than 20 hours and the device has been in the stratosphere for more than 5 and a half hours.

Broadband connection tests were carried out with satisfactory results, making video calls from smart phones, despite the fact that the “plane” had to withstand winds of 100 km / h.

This concept of a communication system does not have the complexity and costs of satellite systems, but it does have the disadvantage that it falls to the ground sooner. Therefore, for the system to be “always” operational, there should be substitute aircraft to replace the one that is going to stop working.

The great advantage of this project (and that is why I like it), apart from the lower cost is that they can be repaired easier, they do not pollute the atmosphere, it can be quickly put into operation in a certain area, etc …

That is, it seems more flexible to me.

You can see a video at:

https://youtu.be/9G_h_fDyYAk

It remains to be seen if this project goes ahead and moves from “testing” to “reality.”

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Amador Palacios

I am an electronic engineer with more than 40 years working in industry. I like to reflect on Technological and Social issues