Japan’s SoftBank has asked Australian authorities to factor high altitude pseudo-satellites (HAPS) into future plans for 28 GHz spectrum, which is currently being eyed by future 5G operators like NBN Co.
SoftBank said in a submission [docx] to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that 28 GHz spectrum was important to the downlink on HAPS, which uses unmanned aircraft that can fly for months at a time to deliver connectivity to wide areas.
SoftBank is one year into a joint venture developing HAPS with a company called AeroVironment.
The Japanese giant revealed in its submission to the ACMA that Lendlease “is supporting their introduction of HAPS in Australia”, without going into details.
“SoftBank recognises that it is important for each country to consider the 28 GHz frequency band for the use of HAPS,” it said.
“SoftBank looks forward to ongoing contribution to the enhancement of spectrum utilisation in Australia.”
SoftBank suggested HAPS could offer connectivity over an area wider than 30,000 square kilometres and at lower latency than other satellite connectivity options.
It suggested internet of things could be a prime use case for HAPS though it could also be used to provide limited services “to ordinary mobile phones”.
“This will enable people to make emergency calls in sparse and unpopulated areas (e.g. rural, remote and national park locations),” the telco said.
“Therefore, SoftBank expects that HAPS contributes not only to the expansion of mobile connectivity mainly for IoT but also to safety and security.”
SoftBank is not the only major player looking at HAPS.
Airbus is also pushing the technology under the brand name Zephyr, a programme which has “civil and military approval from countries across four continents, including the UK and Australia.”
The aircraft maker and defence firm is significantly advanced on the Australian front, last month opening "the world’s first HAPS flight base serving as the launch site for the Zephyr UAV in Wyndham, Western Australia."