Feeds

Google to build 80,000 foot radio tower?

The truth hertz

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Floating a New Idea

One of the problems with cell phone base stations is they don't want to be particularly high up, especially in busy areas. Greater elevation increases cell size, which is great in the countryside; but since capacity is on a per-cell basis, in most cases the cells don't want to be more than 20 metres up, which can make siting them difficult.

Squeezing GSM transmitters into a pregnant lamp post is one option - though most upright rods you see at the side of the road are actually sewer chimneys. Pretending they are trees is another, but the required network equipment generally gives the game away. Once we talk about putting up antennae for WiMAX, and all other services looking to fill the digital dividend, we're going to have to find smarter places to put our aerials.

Which is where Space Data Corp comes in: it owns some spectrum in the 900MHz band, and rather than build a network of transmitters it just attaches its cell sites to hydrogen balloons and pays local farmers $50 a time to launch them, usually one every day keeping around ten covering the whole southern US from a height of around 24km (between 80 and 100 thousand feet). The balloons last a day, after which they pop and the kit parachutes down to be collected by hobbyists, with GPS equipment, who get $100 a time for returning the $2,500 equipment package.

When he we asked Google if it indeed has an eye on Space Data, it didn't respond. But its interest isn't surprising, especially if the search megabeast is serious about grabbing a chunk of 700MHz; but the more meteorologically-inclined will have noticed that Space Data Corp.'s model requires a reasonably predictable wind pattern, making expansion into the UK - or indeed deployment beyond the southern US - unlikely.

Over the years we've seen various plans for aerial broadband, encompassing everything from remotely-piloted blimps to manned aircraft circling day and night, but outside from Space Data Corp.'s success the rest of the world is still relying on steel towers with antennae bolted to them. So most likely we'll just have to expect to see a lot more of them in future even if, in the UK at least, we'll have no idea what they're doing there. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.