Feeds

US broadband blimp test flight planned next month

Georgia Stratellites

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Way back in September 1998, we reported on a plan to provide cities with blanket wireless data coverage using base-stations mounted on cheap aeroplane rather than expensive satellites.

Broadband blimps and planesThe company behind the scheme, St. Louis, Missouri-based Angel Technologies, calls the system Halo, and has been quietly developing the system ever since the test flights it made in late 1998. So far it has yet to roll the service out commercially, though the company has managed to break a few world records for high-altitude flight.

Now it has a rival. Atlanta, Georgia-based Sanswire Networks will next month launch a base-station suspended beneath an 75m unmanned airship which will float around 20km (13 miles) up in the air, kept in place by ground-control and a GPS fix. Angel's Halo planes will fly at around 16km (10 miles).

Again, the idea is to provide users with a variety of mobile data services. Like Angel, Sanswire is pitching the scheme as a way of providing not only a cheaper service than satellite-based alternatives can offer, but one that yields a stronger signal, enabling smaller, lower power end-user equipment.

Of course, mast-mounted transmitters are better still on that score, but Angel and Sanswire can offer a much wider coverage from one aircraft than one tower can. They can also reach areas where it may be uneconomical to install masts, whether for geographical reasons, local objections or citing regulations.

Sanswire claims its 'stratellite' blimps will provide a coverage area of up to 300,000 square miles, as does Angel. Both companies are also alike in being unwilling to say when they will be able to offer commercial wireless services. To be fair, it could be some way off, and since many similarly grandiose ventures have missed targets and plans, they're probably right to be circumspect for now.

Having missed its original January 2004 launch target, UK broadband-by-balloon operation SkyLinc is also keen to keep whatever targets it now has private for the time being. ®

Related stories

Internet access takes to the skies
Whatever happened to broadband by blimp?
Broadband by blimp idea floated
The balloon goes up on 300km Wi-Fi

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.