Deutsche Telekom has successfully completed a test of aircraft-mounted 4G antennas, in an effort to improve coverage.
One of the biggest challenges carriers face is providing coverage in remote areas. In some cases, the terrain, population density and zoning issues can make it difficult to deploy cell towers in some regions.
Deutsche Telekom is turning to aerial antennas on unmanned aircraft to close the gap. According to Reuters, the company just completed its first successful test, with an aerial base station connecting to the ground network from 45,000 feet in the air.
“We won’t stop until everyone is connected,” said Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges. “A stratospheric network can help reach areas that have been difficult to supply up to now.”
Deutsche Telekom is partnering with British startup Stratospheric Platforms to create an unmanned aircraft that will run on hydrogen fuel-cells and stay in the air for up to nine days. Although the initial test was completed using a modified prop plane, since the final unmanned craft is not completed yet, the companies plan on deploying the new platform in 2024.