Friday, 13 May 2022 12:58

SoftBank explores high-altitude project in Australia

Junichi Miyakawa (left) and Andrew Gauci Junichi Miyakawa (left) and Andrew Gauci

Japanese multinational company SoftBank is partnering with real estate company Lendlease to explore the deployment of high-altitude platform station in Australia and improve coverage in poorly-connected areas.

Data Centre Dynamics reported SoftBank’s subsidiary, HAPSMobile, is developing a solar-powered fixed-wing HAPS platform. It has done five successful flights of 78m wingspan drone and aims to begin commercial operations—mostly in the form of wholesale services to operators—around 2023.

The joint venture, called HAPSMobile Australia, was established on 29 April 2022 in Sydney. It studied the business potential of HAPS in the Australian market.

SoftBank says the deployment of conventional terrestrial base stations in remote and rural areas in Australia has been challenging and cost prohibitive due to Australia’s sparsely populated or unpopulated areas.

SoftBank claims that HAPS in the stratosphere can facilitate high-speed LTE and 5G connectivity to locations that have partial or no coverage. HAPS can act as a means of serving unconnected areas, it says.

Lendlease Asia has been providing telecommunications and data infrastructure services to SoftBank, HAPSMobile’s parent company, in Japan for more than 20 years.
Lendlease will act as facilitator since it has knowledge and understanding of the Australian market.

“Since 2002, Lendlease has been working together with SoftBank, connecting and benefitting communities across Japan. HAPS technology has the potential to truly connect Australia, not only people but also enabling machine-to-machine connectivity anywhere,” comments Lendlease managing director Japan and head of telecoms and data infrastructure Asia Andrew Gauci.

“With its large landmass, much of Australia is still without mobile network coverage. That’s why we believe HAPS-based solutions could be optimal for industrial IoT, emergency communications and other applications in addition to providing broadband for rural communities,” concludes SoftBank and HAPSMobile president and CEO Junichi Miyakawa.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 11 May 2022.

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