World’s first 5G mobile broadband from the stratosphere

World’s first 5G mobile broadband from the stratosphere

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

UK startup Stratospheric Platforms has demonstrated the world’s first 5G transmission from the stratosphere.

The 5G signal was maintained for 5 hours at 45,000 ft, achieving a download speed of 90Mbit/s to a standard 5G smartphone on the ground.

The landmark telecoms trial was run in collaboration with the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arabia in the airspace above the Red Sea. Engineers connected to the local telecoms network, completing tests between a 5G base station, flying stratospheric antenna, and retail mobile devices.

From the 13.7km altitude, the 5G signal was projected across an area of 450km2, and demonstrated the that mobile download speeds comparable to terrestrial 5G networks are possible at significantly lower cost.

The joint team established three-way video calls between the land-based test site, a mobile device operated from a boat and a control site located 950 km away. Further land and heliborne tests demonstrated a user could stream 4K video to a mobile phone with an average latency of 1 millisecond above network speed. Signal strength trials, using a 5G enabled device moving at 100 km/h, showed full interoperability with ground-based masts and a consistent ‘five bars’ in known white spots.

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“Stratospheric Platforms’ has achieved a world-first. This is a momentous event for the global telecoms industry proving that a 5G telecoms mast flying near the top of the earth’s atmosphere can deliver stable broadband 5G internet to serve mobile users with ubiquitous, high-speed internet, over vast areas,” said Richard Deakin, CEO of Cambridge-based Stratospheric Platforms.

“The trial has proved that 5G can be reliably beamed down from an airborne antenna and is indistinguishable from ground-based mobile networks. Our hydrogen-powered ‘Stratomast’ High Altitude Platform currently under development, will be able to fly for a week without refuelling and cover an area of 15,000 km2 using one antenna.”

“Our partnership with Stratospheric Platforms’ with the support of the Red Sea Project and General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has demonstrated how we can deliver ‘always on’, ultra-fast broadband to areas without ground based 5G masts,” said Dr Mohammed Altamimi, Governor of the CITC.

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