This broadband blimp can send as much data as 30 cell towers
IEEE Spectrum reports 16 million people living in rural U.S. areas have limited access to mobile broadband.
SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS — New technology could bring mobile broadband to millions of Americans living rural areas lacking internet connectivity.
Massachusetts firm Altaeros told IEEE Spectrum magazine their floating mobile broadband supertower platform is about 70 percent cheaper than normal broadband deployment.
Floating at 250 meters, an autonomous aerostat carrying antennas and receivers is connected to a ground station by three tethers. One of these sends power and data to it.
The supertower is able to observe weather conditions and reorient itself accordingly. Altaeros says one can provide as much coverage as 30 broadband cell towers.
Future applications of the technology could see it being deployed to disaster areas while being towed behind a truck.
The supertowers could also help reduce carbon emissions, as developing countries often use diesel generators to power cell phone towers. According to Altaeros, a supertower powered by a generator can provide coverage to an area that would require 20 to 30 generators if covered by cell phone towers.
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