Technology

Alphabet tests world’s first internet from above 62,000 feet

The teams could participate in a video call using regular smartphones.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Google’s parent Alphabet and Soft Bank successfully tested the world’s first LTE internet connectivity from a solar-powered unmanned aircraft flying above 62,000 feet.

"This technology holds great promise for the future of connectivity, especially as part of efforts to expand internet access to places that don’t yet have it," said Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google.

SoftBank's HAPSMobile and Alphabet’s Loon LLC jointly conducted the test on High Altitude Platform Station’s (HAPS) autonomous aircraft.

It enabled LTE connectivity for about 15 hours during the test flight, despite demanding conditions in the stratosphere, where wind speed crossed 30 meters per second and temperature was as low as negative 73 degree Celsius.

Smooth operations and connection speeds during the test flight enabled high-definition low-latency video calls. Participants in the video call were in New Mexico, Tokyo, Mountain View, California and Washington, DC. The calls were successful both indoors and outdoors.

The teams could participate in the video call using regular smartphones, as the radio waves transmitted and received by the aircraft operated on the same frequencies as existing smartphones.

The test provided insight into how HAPS could be used in disaster management and lifesaving technologies.

“HAPS technology is greatly needed by all of us for natural disaster recovery and Internet inclusion," said Jun Murai, HAPSMobile External Director.

The companies also plan to use the data collected during the test flight in their working with the regulators and telcos to complete the work on HAPS.

“Through this test we’ve obtained vital data that will accelerate the development of commercial services and improve the coverage and quality of our HAPS connectivity," said Junichi Miyakawa, CTO of SoftBank Corp., President & CEO of HAPSMobile.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 7:01:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/alphabet-tests-worlds-first-internet-from-above-62000-feet/article32843234.ece

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