Post-Disaster Communications Provided by High-Altitude Balloon

Emergency Management
Shot from high-altitude balloon
Credits: Noah Klugman

Mobile 4G LTE provider Oceus Networks has come up with a technology that will enable broadband and communications services between first responders within 72 hours of an emergency or disaster. When a disaster hits, the maintenance of communication between the responsible first responders is crucial in order to efficiently face the disaster caused. Nevertheless, part of the damages resulted from a hurricane or an earthquake is the loss of the broadband coverage, hindering a coordinated action among the first responders.

The company put into practice the idea by launching an airborne 4G LTE cellular network into the air to "collect data and characterize the performance of a high-altitude 4G LTE public safety system," according to a press release. After travelling nearly 200 miles and having reached an altitude of 75,000 feet, the device transmitted an LTE network signal that provided a 100 km radius of coverage, categorizing the trial as a success.

Moreover, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration granted Oceus Networks and project partner Space Data, temporary access to the public safety broadband spectrum in the "same frequencies that will be used in the forthcoming nationwide public safety broadband network". However, Oceus Networks still compiling the outcomes from this test.

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