HAPSMobile, a SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) subsidiary that is working to provide stratosphere-based telecommunication platforms through its High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business, is a founding member of the HAPS Alliance, an industry association that includes telecommunications, technology, aviation, and aerospace companies. United in promoting the use of HAPS to eliminate the digital divide, Alliance members are advocating the advantages of HAPS with regulatory authorities, building a HAPS ecosystem and promoting HAPS technology standardization. Founded in April 2020, Alliance membership has grown to over 40 companies, organizations and educational institutions. Current members include Airbus, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Intelsat and Nokia.
To mark its first year and to further build the HAPS community, the Alliance held its first annual member meeting on April 27 and 28, 2021. The two-day conference brought together 90 people from 35 member companies, representing 15 different countries. Members were able to hear the latest news about HAPS and learn about how the Alliance is working to utilize the stratosphere for telecommunications, earth observation, weather forecasting and other applications.
HAPS technology well positioned to bridge the digital divide
HAPS Alliance President Ken Riordan opened the meeting by underlining the stratosphere’s potential. “We know that the opportunity for HAPS is broader than just telecoms – but the focus is there, and over the past 12 months and even before, the narrative within our industry has very much been about 5G and IoT. The challenges that some of these new use cases represent can be, we believe, very meaningfully enhanced by a stratospheric HAPS layer,” Riordan said.
He added, “At the same time, it’s even more important that solutions like HAPS can be brought to commercial viability, to address the digital divide and to meaningfully improve upon coverage in developing countries. In areas like North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, there still exist huge challenges that HAPS is fundamentally well-targeted to pursue.”
The member meeting also featured a roundtable meeting with the HAPS Alliance Officers and Executive Board of Directors, including HAPSMobile Board Director and SoftBank Corp. Head of Advanced Technology Ryuji Wakikawa, and opportunities for interaction in four different breakout sessions that covered commercial adoption, the regulatory and safety landscape, thought leadership and education, as well as R&D and public and private sector collaboration.
HAPSMobile has made significant progress in the first year of the HAPS Alliance. In September 2020, its solar-powered unmanned aircraft system “Sunglider” succeeded in its first stratospheric test flight. During this test, HAPSMobile also successfully delivered LTE connectivity, a world first for a fixed-wing autonomous aircraft, which enabled a high-definition, low-latency video call with partners and Alliance members Loon and AeroVironment.
Building on the momentum from its first member meeting, the HAPS Alliance will continue to collaborate to promote the adoption of HAPS technology.
An Alliance Working to Connect the Unconnected
The mission of the HAPS Alliance is to eliminate the digital divide and bring connectivity to more people, places and things worldwide by using high altitude platform stations (HAPS) operating 20km above Earth in the stratosphere. The Alliance brings together some of the world's most recognizable companies across telecommunications, technology, aviation and aerospace. United in the goal of promoting HAPS technology, the Alliance was founded in 2020.
Learn more about the Alliance’s activities and how to join on the HAPS Alliance website.
(Posted on May 31, 2021)
by SoftBank News Editors