Raven Uses Thunderhead Balloon System to Provide 4G LTE Connectivity from the Stratosphere
Apr 25, 2022
April 25, 2022 | Editorial Team
Raven Industries , a leader in precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, and situational awareness markets announced that Aerostar International (Raven Aerostar) and Abside Networks have successfully demonstrated 4G LTE connectivity from the stratosphere in a series of test flights. Raven Aerostar's Thunderhead Balloon System provided connectivity through Abside's HAPS-RAN (High Altitude Platform Station - Radio Access Network) product line. "With a working cellular base station, our balloon systems provide everyday people with vital communications during times of crisis — when it's needed most," said Russ VanDerWerff, Director of Engineering for Raven Aerostar. “Raven Aerostar can recreate critical communications links in the aftermath of storms, floods, wildfires and other natural disasters that are causing devastating disruptions to power and infrastructure.”
Thunderhead balloons navigate the stratosphere by leveraging diverse winds and changing altitude as needed. They can linger over a designated area for weeks to months using solar power. Paired with Abside's communications technology, Thunderhead Balloon Systems offer an inexpensive, long-duration capability that can be deployed rapidly anywhere in the world. The team demonstrated stable cellular connections to and from unmodified cellular devices from Google, Samsung and others to deliver up to 23 Mbps downlink and 6 Mbps uplink via 4G LTE , fast enough to support internet access, file transfer and videoconferencing services. "Abside's 4G and 5G product line dedicated to High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) has already served commercial 4G users throughout the world, during a previous partnership with Loon, LLC (formerly known as Project Loon), a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc,” said Laurent Perraud, CEO of Abside. "We are thrilled to continue this legacy in new ways."