Image Source: Flicker User: iLighter // Attribution 2.0 Generic

Google-parent Alphabet Inc. and SoftBank are joining forces to bring to the world high altitude, flying mobile towers, thus ushering in a new era of connectivity. Google’s sibling Loon and SoftBank’s HAPSMobile will work together to get regulatory approvals for the technology and bring faster Internet speeds to the world.

The two companies started working together in last April, making major strides in development of the technology, adapting the network hardware Loon uses on its stratospheric balloons to work with the HAPSMobile stratospheric long-winged drone thus exponentially increasing the speed of developing a stable model of the function.

Now, the joined alliance will seek to get industry wide regulations and secure a spectrum over which these towers will operate. The two companies are being joined by other industry giants, including AeroVironment, Airbus Defence and Space, Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Intelsat, Nokia, HAPSMobile parent SoftBank and Telefonica. The alliance will also promote the use of the platform as an alternative to existing network of ground towers.

The alliance will be beneficial in setting up the future of this new market, shaping it in a way that the competition is fair and every player gets a piece of the action. Moreover, responsibility of how this technology will be used will also fall onto its shoulders which is no menial task. All in all, this alliance can determine how this new sector of the telecom industry will operate.

The technology is strikingly different from what we have right now. Presently, telecoms rely on either satellites high up in the orbit, or earth-based cell towers. In the case of former, the disadvantage lies in the distance of the satellite from ground, resulting in longer transit times for signals. In the case of latter, limited range and other terraintial difficulties act as major hurdles.

Apart from other benefits, these Loon+HAPS drones/towers will operate via solar energy which is again, a major plus. The technology will also help telecom companies reach places they have not been able to touch yet. In fact, Loon has already struck deals with wireless carriers in Kenya and Peru. HAPSMobile plans to launch its commercial service in 2023 and has already started conducting low altitude test flights of its drone.