The Elefante Group has recently applied to the Federal Communications Commission of the United States with a request to allocate 22 GHz, 23 GHz, 26 GHz, 70 GHz and 80 GHz bands to build a communication system composed of airships located 20 km above the Earth’s surface. Crazy? This idea appeals to Facebook, who wants every one of us to have access to the Internet.
People who live in rural areas are well aware of the fact that the coverage of cellular networks is not as rosy as it might seem for citizens of big cities. This problem is even more evident in the United States, where operators are struggling with the problem of building wireless networks in agricultural areas. That is why many companies originating from the USA are working on new solutions that would allow ubiquitous access to the Internet. A good example of such activity is the Google Loon project, which is based on a network of stratospheric balloons. However, this initiative has one serious problem. The balloons floated in the air move and then land. That is why the Elefante Group wants to approach this topic differently. The airship hovering 20 km above the Earth would be responsible for the signal transmission.
Facebook supports the idea of stratospheric radio communication platforms
Does the base station flying 20 kilometres above our heads make any sense? Elon Musk believes in cheap and universal satellite Internet. Therefore, airships flying lower than satellites, but higher than passenger planes, can also serve the same purpose. The idea proposed by the Elefante startup is quite sensible. Airships can “hang” still in a given place for several years and have much more power than a stratospheric balloon. Therefore, this type of platform can provide coverage of a given area using several frequency bands. The throughput capacity of such a point would be 1 Tbps. However, this speed will not be intended directly for Internet users. In exchange, this type of platform would provide backhaul links to 4G LTE and 5G base stations and Wi-Fi hotspots deployed over a large geographical area. Some operators have criticized the request of the Elefante Group because it is based on untested wireless communication technology. However, if this venture proves successful, it can help mobile network operators build national 5G networks.