High Altitude Platform Systems: Towers in the Skies

Monday 28 Jun 2021 | Resources |

High Altitude Platform Systems: Towers in the Skies image

Operating in the stratosphere, unmanned high-altitude platforms (HAPS) could bring connectivity to areas that are either not covered, or are only partially covered, by terrestrial cellular networks.

This whitepaper highlights the potential of HAPS to meet the need for more broadband connectivity worldwide. HAPS are very versatile: they can be adjusted to prioritise coverage or capacity depending on the use case. Moreover, an aircraft can be deployed to cover a location at short notice. As HAPS can employ LTE and 5G, there are no special requirements on the user equipment: a normal smartphone can be used. As a result, HAPS can support a variety of use cases for both developed and developing markets, including:

  • Greenfield coverage – providing coverage in areas with no cellular networks
  • White spot reduction – filling in gaps in cellular coverage
  • Emergency communications/disaster recovery – backing up damaged terrestrial networks
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) – connecting sensors, appliances, machines and vehicles
  • Temporary coverage for events/tourist hotspots – adding extra capacity in specific locations
  • Fixed wireless access – a broadband alternative to deploying fixed lines
  • Connectivity for urban air mobility and drones – providing better connectivity in the air
  • Private networks – enabling organisations to deploy their own cellular connectivity
  • Terrestrial site backhaul – connecting base stations and edge data centres to the Internet

The white paper has been created thanks to the following contributing mobile operators:

And supporting mobile operators:

Interested to join us and help further study and consider the HAPS opportunity?  

The GSMA calling on telcos to help further study and consider HAPS opportunity into their future networks, while working with aerospace players to drive technical innovation in aircraft design and support systems to develop a sustainable carrier platform for telecoms payloads.

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