Movistar Argentina trials 4G balloon tech

29 March 2017 | James Pearce


Movistar Argentina has used balloon technology to supply 4G signal in remote areas as part of a trial, the Telefonica subsidiary has announced.

The tests were staged at the Balcarce Earth Station in Buenos Aires and saw the balloons tethered to the ground by a cable. They then beamed 4G LTE connectivity to mobile devices on the ground.

Movistar said the balloons can remain airborne for up to five days, reaching heights of around 40 metres, offering the opportunity for rapid rollout and scale.

Movistar currently has a 4G base of around 4 million in Argentina, with a network comprising of around 4,000 base stations covering more than 650 locations.

It is not the first example of balloon technology being used to transmit signal. Google has been trialling balloon tech in Australia through its Project Loon for several years, while UK mobile operator EE, owned by BT, launched its own balloon prototypes earlier this year.