Are the days of large, looming towers and antennas attached to buildings ending for wireless? While it may not be complete doom and gloom for wireless tower and infrastructure companies, the way we look at infrastructure may be changing in the future, thanks in part to the efforts we are seeing by companies such as Deutsche Telekom (DT). The Germany-based wireless superpower, probably best known for owning T-Mobile here in the states, is backing efforts that would see 5G transmitted from aircraft soaring above.
Does it sound crazy? Well, frankly, so did self-driving cars years ago, and yet, here we are. This is why it’s not as much of a surprise to see a breakthrough coming from Cambridge Consultants and Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL) and their efforts in advancing antenna technology to perform such a task. The idea is that while 5G is coming to improve how we communicate, these aircraft can hope to replace hundreds of the estimated 400,000 towers needed to help 5G signals reach users in the U.K. alone! When considering this reach, it can be easy to see how aircraft can not only be effective but also the cheaper route for wireless companies.
A team consisting of 90 members from Cambridge Consultants worked on the technology in secrecy for almost four years overcoming the challenge of making antennas capable of transmitting to handsets on the ground below. Every antenna creates 480 beams which can be steered into locations that are in need such as roads and shipping routes. This technique makes it possible for these antennas to recycle spectrum which helps with distribution and speed. It will also allow for more flexibility in how the spectrum is distributed and in-flight configurations which can enable these networks to perform more than traditional networks can provide in terms of network services.
Combining these breakthroughs with SPL working with DT and it’s easy to see that there are heavy collaborative efforts taking place towards an innovative, airborne 5G network. SPL is also working on producing a hydrogen-powered aircraft that is operated by remote controls, communications equipment that would be a part of such an aircraft, and working on the systems necessary to create these aircraft for commercial use.
On the other side of the pond, T-Mobile has been busy striking deals with the likes of American Tower but with a massive nationwide 5G network that is continuing to grow, it will be interesting to follow these developments and if they are put into place in America. DT has shown time and time again that it is a proponent of collaboration, innovation, and advancing the wireless industry. Aircraft to transmit 5G is just the latest example but we donut it is the last.
Source: Fierce Wireless