Oceus Networks, a start-up based in Reston, Virginia, demonstrated the deployment of an LTE base station in a high-altitude balloon. The idea to create an easily deployable emergency network that could cover a wide geographic area within the first 72 hours of a natural disaster.
Last week, Oceus and Space Data launched an airborne 4G LTE cellular network near Boulder, Colorado. The payload traveled nearly 200 miles and reached an altitude of 75,000 feet (22,860m). The team used Band 14 devices – data modems (the VML 700) and smartphones (the LEX 700) – both provided by Motorola Solutions, to connect to this mobile airborne LTE network. The test was conducted in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program.
Space Data specializes in high-altitude balloon system design, payload integration and flight operations. Oceus has integrated a military-grade LTE solution called Xiphos.
Oceus said its experiment supports the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture (DACA) initiative, which is exploring the role of High Altitude Platforms in the national public safety network.
"This successful demonstration underscores the role of 4G LTE in a rapidly deployable aerial communications architecture, particularly during the first crucial hours after disaster strikes, when deployable broadband technologies are critical,” said Douglas C. Smith, chief executive officer of Oceus Networks. “We look forward to continuing our work with federal policymakers and first responders on deployable solutions for extending the reach of the national public safety network, FirstNet."