Japan’s NTT Docomo and its high-altitude platform stations (HAPS) partners advanced their goal of delivering 5G service from the stratosphere, trialling a non-terrestrial network using the New Radio (NR) standard in the 38GHz band.

The operator, joined by Sky Perfect JSAT, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and Panasonic, set up an aerial relay backhaul between a small aircraft, flying at altitude of about 4km, and three ground stations, simulating the eventual use of HAPS. 

In a statement, Docomo noted the demo achieved multiple backhaul lines consisting of aerial relays, a breakthrough the consortium claimed was a world first, adding the trial demonstrated the practical application of 5G feeder links and backhaul lines for HAPS.

A Cessna aircraft was equipped with newly developed communication equipment which is expected to be deployed in HAPS. In addition, a lens-type antenna with an auto-tracking function was used as the HAPS ground station.

Last December, NICT selected four local companies, including Docomo and Sky Perfect JSAT, to develop direct-to-device mobile services using HAPS.

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