Airbus, NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation), NTT DOCOMO INC., and SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. have jointly initiated a study of the feasibility of consorting on future HAPS (high-altitude platform stations)-based connectivity services.
Unveiled with an MoU (memorandum of understanding), the study will try to recognize the early installation requirement of a network based on HAPS. With the MoU signing, the four companies will discuss and recognize potential developments required to untap future connectivity services based on HAPS, explore business models for the commercialization of HAPS services, and lobby for institutionalization and standardization of HAPS operations.
Certain themes include the application of HAPS for base station backhaul and on-ground mobile connectivity, the technological considerations for linking satellites and ground base stations with HAPS, the performance of different frequency bands in HAPS systems along with setting a cooperative system to examine a network that combines satellites, HAPS, and NTN (non-terrestrial network) technology.
The collaboration will scrutinize the usage of the Airbus Zephyr, the leading stratospheric, solar-powered UAS (unmanned aerial system) along with the wireless communication networks of SKY Perfect JSAT, NTT, and DOCOMO to test HAPS connectivity, develop necessary technologies, identify practical applications, and eventually unveil space-based wireless broadband services.
According to a separate announcement made on November 2021, Airbus and DOCOMO successfully performed a propagation test between a Zephyr S HAPS aircraft in the stratosphere and the ground, showcasing the potential of offering stable communication with such a setting.
In the worldwide push to advance 5G and eventually unveil 6G, there are ongoing initiatives to expand coverage across the globe, including in the air and in the oceans. These initiatives will include HAPS, which flies 20 km above the Earth in the stratosphere, as well as NTN technologies using GEO (geostationary-orbit) satellites and LEO (low Earth-orbit) satellites.
HAPS networks are considered to be an easy solution for sea and air connectivity and an efficient platform for installing disaster countermeasures and other industrial applications.