Taking to the Sky SoftBank’s Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Concept for Providing Communication Networks Everywhere


Toward a society where everyone
around the world is connected
We are up for the challenge

The Internet has changed our lives
dramatically for the better.

Still, roughly half the world’s population
still has no access to the internet.

In areas where the communication environment
is not well developed,
businesses and industries are
lagging with digital technologies
and their problems remain unresolved.

SoftBank is taking to the sky
to create a society
where anyone can connect to the Internet,
from anywhere.

SoftBank's NTN Solutions

Non-terrestrial networks (NTN) deliver telecommunication connectivity from space and the stratosphere. SoftBank will offer two different NTN solutions: OneWeb, and HAPS.

OneWeb delivers high-volume, low-latency communication from satellites in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 1,200 km. HAPS, meanwhile, flies in the stratosphere at an altitude of 20 km and delivers connectivity to conventional mobile handsets.

SoftBank will take advantage of the two solutions’ different communication speeds and methods to offer users applications that suit their particular needs. SoftBank will promote the deployment of its NTN solutions in Japan and globally.

NTN solutions
Low Earth Orbit Satellite Communication Service


Communication service delivered via 648 satellites in low Earth orbit

OneWeb operates its communication services with its low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation. To date the company has 428 satellites in-orbit and will expand to 648 satellites operating at an altitude of 1,200 km. Placing large numbers of satellites in low Earth orbits that are closer to Earth than traditional geostationary satellites enables the service to offer high-speed communications with low latency.

Compact terminal with automatic tracking

More compact antenna

In addition to the use of parabolic antennas for high-volume communications, the user terminals can also be miniaturized thanks to advances in the development of small planar antennas that look like electronic components.

High-speed communications with low latency

The communication service provided by OneWeb’s low Earth orbit satellites is able to offer speeds of up to 195 Mbps (downlink) and 32 Mbps (uplink) combined with latency that has significantly reduced delay compared to geostationary satellites. Using the satellite link as a relay network makes it possible to establish cellular communication networks outside existing coverage areas.


  • *

    Future services offered by OneWeb are under consideration and are subject to change.

Maximum values on device specs
Supplied by OneWeb

Assumed Use Cases


  • Provision of broadband communications to vessels at sea out of range of onshore base stations
  • Provision of the real-time communications essential to the coming proliferation of autonomous driving systems


  • Provision of communications to construction sites located outside existing coverage areas to facilitate the adoption of ICT practices such as remote monitoring or the remote operation of equipment

Disaster response

Disaster response
  • Provision of backup communications to local government, infrastructure operators, and businesses when disasters impair the operation of terrestrial networks

(mountainous areas)

Forestry (mountainous areas)
  • DX of forest resources and afforestation business management and improvement of work efficiency by tracking worker location information.
  • Remote monitoring of forest fires and illegal logging, operation of heavy equipment
  • Providing means of communication among workers

Remote infrastructure

Remote infrastructure
  • Power grid infrastructure and grid stability inspections
  • Remote deterioration status monitoring of structures (dams, embankments, harbor facilities, etc.)
  • Facilitation of business digital transformation (DX)


OneWeb Ltd. was established to pursue the vision of using its own satellite network to eliminate the digital divide. Following its acquisition by the UK government and Bharti Group in November 2020, further investment was provided by SoftBank Group, Eutelsat, Hughes Network Systems, and Hanwha Systems in 2021. In May 2021, SoftBank and OneWeb entered a business partnership, and they are currently working to roll out the service in Japan.

High-Altitude Platform Station


Compatible with conventional smartphones

High-altitude platform station (HAPS) is a means of providing communication services from unmanned aircrafts that remain aloft in the stratosphere at an altitude of 20 km. Because HAPS uses the same frequency as terrestrial communications, HAPS does not require special-purpose terminals, unlike with satellite communication, and enables direct communication with smartphones and other standard mobile devices.

Three benefits of flying in the stratosphere

Utilizing the stratosphere for stable communications

The stratosphere is an unexploited area at very high altitude, well above that of commercial aviation. Relatively light winds allow the aircraft to circle within a defined area and operate a stable communication service. Providing connectivity from an altitude of 20 km, one HAPS aircraft can cover a much wider area than ground base stations, with a diameter of about 200 km per aircraft.

Assumed Use Cases

Coverage area expansion

  • Provision of communication services to mountainous regions, islands or other remote areas where terrestrial communication networks are not in place.

Disaster recovery

  • When terrestrial communication facilities are impaired by natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis, HAPS can provisionally restore communication by flying aircraft over the affected areas.

Network for IoT

  • By providing communications from the stratosphere, it is possible to build a three-dimensional network, including in mid-air, and provide communication services for IoT devices such as drones, which are expected to become widespread in the future.


HAPSMobile Inc. was established by SoftBank in December 2017 to pursue its HAPS business.
The company conducted its first test flight into the stratosphere on September 21, 2020, reaching an altitude of about 19 km. Just three years since the start of aircraft development, the company has already achieved stratospheric flight and successfully tested Internet communications with stratosphere-ready communication payloads.
HAPSMobile will proceed with development, working toward a pre-commercial launch around 2026.