Global telcos join Alphabet, SoftBank’s flying cellphone antenna lobbying effort

|| Published: 2020-02-25 16:19:50 || Updated: 2020-03-01 14:22:51

Alphabet and SoftBank’s attempts to launch flying cellphone antennas high into the atmosphere have received backing from global telcos, energizing lobbying efforts aimed at driving regulatory approval for the emerging technology, according to Reuters.

Loon, which was spun out of Google parent Alphabet Inc’s business incubator, and HAPSMobile, a unit of SoftBank Group Corp’s domestic telco, plan to deliver high speed internet to remote areas by flying network equipment at high altitudes.
Lobbying efforts by the two firms, which formed an alliance last year, are being joined by companies including aerospace firm Airbus, network vendors Nokia and Ericsson and telcos China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Bharti Airtel.

The backing is a vote of confidence in the technology after Alphabet this month shut down another of its big bets, Makani, which aimed to generate wind energy with kites, in a move widely seen as signaling pressure from CEO Sundar Pichai for unproven businesses like Loon to start delivering results.

The expanded alliance announced in a joint statement aims to secure spectrum and promote uniform regulation and industry-wide standards for the high altitude vehicles, which carry network equipment on balloons in the case of Loon and drones with HAPSMobile. Both systems are solar powered.

Loon has already struck deals with wireless carriers in Kenya and Peru. Such technology allows telcos to extend coverage into hard-to-reach areas where there is low population density or geographical obstacles like mountains and maintain service after disasters.

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