MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, BARCELONA – NTT Docomo told us Monday that it is intending to start deploying its first high-altitude platform stations (HAPS) later in 2024 or by 2025.

The unmanned aerial mobile base stations are intended to be deployed at a stratosphere altitude of 20 kilometers, which is near to the altitude of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. This HAPS platform was developed by aerospace company Airbus, NTT Docomo and satellite firm SKY Perfect JSAT.

An NTT Docomo spokesman at their booth told us they would start to deploy the platforms later in 2024 or by 2025. NTT Docomo, which first tested a HAPS unit in 2021, has tested using 2 GHz spectrum to facilitate connections between the high-flying platforms and ground antennas.

The platforms will start as 5G devices initially. NTT Docomo is also planning to launch 6G HAPS devices eventually. That, however, will be years away.

Japanese rival Softbank has recently held its own successful trial of its first HAPS unit in Rwanda, after issuing a sustainability bond in 2021 to fund its work. Facebook and Google have also experimented with HAPS-style concepts to offer connectivity to underserved areas, and BT recently detailed its own experiments with the technology. 

HAPS-based networks can be used to provide connectivity during disaster situations, for ship and drone connectivity and to provide communications in mountainous and remote areas such as islands.

We’ll be keeping our eye on the sky, that’s for sure!

Original article can be seen at: