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Broadband by Balloon

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  • Broadband by Balloon

    Broadband balloons take off

    The answer to providing broadband for all could lie in the skies with balloons offering a new way to deliver fast internet services.

    It has long been assumed that affordable, high-speed broadband to every area of the UK was only possible via road-disrupting cable laying or expensive satellite connections.

    But a company called SkyLinc has found a happy medium in base stations, floating 1.5km above the surface of the Earth on balloons, or tethered aerostats as they are more technically known. The York-based firm has tested the technology and found that it works well.

    Fast in both directions

    SkyLinc's Libra (Low Cost Integrated Broadband Radio Access) system offers a solution to the age-old problem of how to get broadband out affordably to the whole of the UK. Just 18 base stations would provide total UK coverage, from densely populated towns to the remotest cottage in the Scottish Highlands.

    The antenna remains static even in high winds. The system works by floating a helium-filled envelope in the air, which is held stationary and fed signals via a fibre optic pole.

    Such a system would offer net access at more than double the speed of most broadband services currently available. What is more, it would not slow down as more and more people use the service which is the case with DSL - broadband via the phone line. For people interested in uploading as well as downloading, it will provide the same speeds in both directions.

    Problems such as bad weather conditions can be countered by an antenna stabilisation system which would make sure the antenna stays in place regardless of wind, rain or other conditions.

    The technology behind the idea has been around for years, with the US Government operating several such aerostats as communication systems on its borders and the US military employing similar technology for about 50 years. BBCi

    BBCi article
    SkyLink website

  • #2
    sweet, wouldn't supprise me if that takes off in some parts of the US too