British company, Stratospheric Platforms (SPL), which is backed by Deutsche Telekom has announced it has developed a high-altitude, hydrogen-powered aircraft (technically known as a HAP or High Altitude Platform) which can provide uninterrupted 5G connectivity direct to consumer smart phones across areas as wide as 140km and at the same time, direct broadband connectivity to properties. The Cambridge based company has proposed to the government (DCMS) complete coverage of the UK with a small fleet of aircraft operating from Prestwick. SPL says the coverage capability is particularly well suited to the challenging terrain of Scotland.
Rural 5G coverage
SPL’s Stratomast HAP delivers wide area, high data rate, flexible telecoms capability. The unique 5G technology aircraft acts as a network of masts in the sky – a single Stratomast system provides a low cost means of guaranteeing 100% geographic connectivity to the whole of Scotland. Each aircraft can simultaneously provide home broadband services to properties in rural and remote areas and coverage to 4G/5G phones.
Each Stratomast HAP carries a large high-power telecommunications system capable of covering up to 15,000 km2. SPL’s aircraft and payload are powered by a zero emissions, hydrogen power system. A fleet of 21 aircraft, capable of providing 100% coverage over Scotland, require only 8 offshore wind turbines to generate the power needed to produce Hydrogen from sea water and a service throughout the year with an availability greater than 99.9%.
The Stratomast system benefits remote and rural regions by providing a communications service which only requires standard mobile phones for mobile connectivity, or for home broadband services a low cost, low power MiFi device (sub £100). The system doesn’t require any additional infrastructure or towers on the ground and removes the need for fibre optic cables laid across the seabed to island or rural communities, making it a much cheaper option.
The new HAP is set to benefit rural businesses, including farmers, increase their efficiency by being able to use 5G IoT devices anywhere and access big data. The platform will support tourism by guaranteeing high speed connectivity and supports fisherman by extending mobile phone voice and high-speed data coverage far out to sea.
“Data rates provided but the Stratomast HAP are significantly higher than anything that can be provided by satellites and need no satellite ground station as essentially this is just a telecoms mast in the sky,” said SPL, in a press statement.
Ubiquitous telecommunications coverage
Operating from an airfield located in Scotland, such as Prestwick, SPL has stated that the company aims to provide full geographic ubiquitous telecommunications coverage, not just to Scotland, but the whole of the UK and large parts of Northern Europe. They hope this will: “Cement Scotland as the technical leader in the provision of telecommunications, high altitude platforms and hydrogen aircraft for the foreseeable future.”