Sprint to test aerial HAPSmobile system for LTE connectivity

Sprint plans to test a High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) communications system for six months starting in November.


Documents filed (PDF) with the FCC show the carrier has asked for a “special temporary authority” to conduct demonstrations of experimental transmitters using spectrum frequencies ranging from the 1.9 GHz personal communications service (PCS) band and the 2.5 GHz broadband radio service (BRS) and educational broadband service (EBS) bands.


The tests will be conducted with HAPSmobile, a joint venture between Sprint’s parent Softbank and AeroVironment that was formed in 2017. 


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Sprint said it will be testing a HAPS system’s ability to maintain a stable LTE link with ground equipment over the island of Lanai, Hawaii. It will also test handover capabilities with end user equipment and signal coverage over the island.


HAPSmobile has developed a solar-powered drone, called Hawk 30, which travels up to 20 km above Earth’s surface for stratospheric telecommunications delivery.


In a statement announcing HAPSmobile earlier this year, Softbank said the platform will “contribute to the adoption of IoT and 5G” and will enable Softbank “to build stable Internet connection environments at locations unserved by telecommunication networks,” such as mountainous terrain, remote islands and developing countries.