Airships and solar powered planes delivering broadband from the sky, are on the drawing boards of many organizations. A new one will be partially funded by the European Union.
The Capanina project, named after the Italian restaurant where the idea was conceived, aims to develop high altitude platforms that can beam broadband to areas that are too expensive to receive cable.
It has received €3.1m in funding from the EU’s Framework Programme, which supports research and development, and expects to have the first platforms in the air in three to five years.
The platforms are capable of transmitting data at rates up to 120Mbps and can even deliver signals to moving trains via a ‘smart’ antenna that can track the platform. The unmanned platforms would fly at an altitude of 20 kilometres powered by solar cells.
Various transmission technologies are being looked at, but some research has already been done using WiMax (802.16) signals. BT is a partner in the venture.
Blimps are easier to maintain than satellites and can be periodically brought back to earth for upgrades and maintenance.
GlobeTel Communications, a provider of Internet Protocol telecommunications, is buying substantially all of the assets of Sanswire Technologies. Sanswire planned to launch a national broadband wireless network using High Altitude Airships called “Stratellites“, that when in place, will allow Sanswire to provide high-speed wireless Internet access to subscribers throughout the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.