SoftBank’s subsidiary HAPSMobile and Alphabet’s Loon have started working on a joint venture to build a HAPS system that can provide internet to remote areas from the sky. SoftBank said that it has invested $125 million in Alphabet to fly cell phone antennas. According to the statement made by the two companies, they will share ground stations and technology. It read, “an alliance to promote the use of high altitude communications solutions with regulators and officials worldwide.”
More about Loon and HAPSMobile
HAPSMobile is a joint venture of SoftBank and AeroVironment, and they developed an unmanned aircraft for telecom platform in the air. The aircraft can fly at about an altitude of 20 km. SoftBank wants HAPS to build an environment that can provide internet connection which is not served by telecom networks. The connectivity will be both ground and sky using the drone. The telecom network should be such that it is not affected by ground situations and help in rescue and recovery during natural disasters.
Loon is a company that has come from the stables of Alphabet. Founders of Google wanted to create new and challenging projects and move away from Google. Loon was a project that started out from the labs of Google and later paused its plans of helium-filled balloons blanketing the globe with the internet. It has been in talks with many companies for a deal. Not many companies have shown interest in plugging the lack of internet coverage in rural areas, and moreover, there is a lack of demand for buying skyborne technologies too.
Loon and HAPSMobile after making the announcement said that they would collaborate and use each other’s technology which would help to standardize the networking equipment, both land, and sky. The joint venture has to compete against the likes of entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. All of these billionaires have invested in a startup that can connect to the internet from satellites in earth’s orbit.
Both companies have expressed confidence that their venture is a long term tie-up. The HAPSMobile’S CEO Junichi Miyakawa in a statement said, “I’m confident we can accelerate the path toward the realization of utilizing the stratosphere for global networks by pooling our technologies, insights, and experience.” He further added, “Even in this current era of 5G services, we cannot ignore the reality that roughly half of the world’s population is without internet access”.