Loon HAPS Mobile Softbank

Industry leaders form alliance to drive High Altitude Platform Stations

24 February 2020 | melanie mingas

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A cohort of 11 C-suite executives from across the telecommunications, technology, aviation, and aerospace sectors have joined forces to establish an alliance to promote the use of high-altitude vehicles in the Earth’s stratosphere and “eliminate the digital divide” worldwide.

The HAPS Alliance follows on from the strategic association established by HAPSMobile and Alphabet’s Loon LLC, announced in April 2019, which was intended to advance the use of high-altitude vehicles in the stratosphere.

They collectively invested $250 million into a company that plans to deliver internet access from balloons and uncrewed aircraft.

The expanded alliance now also includes AeroVironment, Airbus Defence and Space, Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Intelsat, Nokia Corporation, SoftBank Corp., and Telefónica.

Junichi Miyakawa, representative director and CTO of SoftBank and president and CEO of HAPSMobile, said: “We are very encouraged that many leaders from across the communications and aerospace industries are joining us in our mission to bridge the digital divide with high altitude vehicles. Together with our Alliance partners, we will lay the groundwork for an ecosystem that fosters HAPS connectivity solutions around the world.”

With four stated objectives and eight areas of purpose, the alliance will collectively advocate for HAPS business development with the relevant authorities in various countries; build a cooperative HAPS ecosystem; develop common product specifications; and promote the standardisation of HAPS network interoperability.

In addition to its focus areas, the alliance has outlined four primary areas of activity, which include advocating for global harmonisation of the HAPS spectrum, namely the adoption, improvement and acceleration of global spectrum standardisation for high altitude IMT base stations within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The alliance will also work to influence emerging commercial standards, including 3GPP Non-Terrestrial Networks and it will Promote industry-managed cooperative separation in the upper airspace.

Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said: “The stratosphere represents an enormous opportunity to bring the benefits of connectivity to more people around the world. But we will only be successful in harnessing the potential of the stratosphere if we come together to advocate for and collaborate on the technologies that will make this possible. This HAPS Alliance is an important step forward in building an established industry that will help us realize the promise of the stratosphere to connect people everywhere.”

The representatives from alliance member companies, are:

Junichi Miyakawa, representative director and CTO of SoftBank Corp., president and CEO, HAPSMobile

Alastair Westgarth, CEO Loon

Wahid Nawabi, president and CEO, AeroVironment

Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel

Chen Yunqing, VP of Research Institute at China Telecom

Claudia Nemat, board member for technology and innovation at Deutsche Telekom

Erik Ekudden, SVP and group CTO at Ericsson

Stephen Spengler, CEO at Intelsat

Kathrin Buvac, president of Nokia Enterprise

David del Val, Telefónica R&D CEO