Look Up In The Sky! It’s Not A Bird. It’s Not A Plane. It’s A Haps!

As wi-fi airwaves fill-up to satisfy a surge in demand, the Federal Communications Fee (FCC) is actively contemplating new applied sciences and modifications to its guidelines to advertise the most efficient use of spectrum sources.

Excessive Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) are one such innovation at the moment beneath overview by the FCC for expanded use in underutilized bands.  The FCC’s guidelines outline a HAPS as a “station located on an object at an altitude of 20 to 50 km and at a specified, nominal, fixed point relative to the Earth.”[1]  Whereas the idea of deploying and working stations within the stratosphere has existed for not less than the previous couple of a long time, HAPS have solely lately change into extra viable resulting from advances in photo voltaic panel effectivity, battery power density, autonomous avionics, and array antennas.[2]  For instance, following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, experimental web service supplier, Loon Inc., deployed dozens of internet-beaming balloons into the stratosphere and efficiently delivered fundamental web connectivity to over 100 thousand individuals in Puerto Rico.[3]  These enhancements, coupled with the rising drive for ubiquitous connectivity, have resulted in HAPS being actively thought-about as a possible expertise for wi-fi broadband deployment in underserved areas.

Certainly, the FCC is at the moment reviewing the practicality of HAPS as part of its rulemaking continuing to modernize and develop entry to the 70/80/90 GHz bands.[4]  In a current public discover,[5] the FCC sought touch upon the “feasibility” of authorizing HAPS to function within the 70/80/90 GHz bands and supply broadband Web entry providers to shoppers in communities that “lack robust, consistent connectivity.”[6]  Particularly, the FCC requested extra data on the industrial and non-commercial use circumstances for HAPS, and the potential for HAPS-based providers to trigger dangerous interference to incumbent or potential future providers within the related spectrum bands.[7]

5 stakeholders filed feedback within the 70/80/90 GHz continuing responding to those questions.  Reply feedback are due by January 3, 2022.  Given the varied illustration of business stakeholders within the continuing, we anticipate a strong dialogue on these points to develop over the approaching months.  Trade stakeholders ought to carefully comply with these developments because the proliferation of HAPS and different stratospheric-based applied sciences have the potential to have an effect on how we perceive the availability of broadband providers and the way forward for wi-fi communication networks.


[1] 47 C.F.R. § 2.1(c).  See additionally RR 1.66A.

[2] See HAPS—Excessive-Altitude Platform Programs, Worldwide Telecommunication Union (December 2019), https://www.itu.int/en/mediacentre/backgrounders/Pages/High-altitude-platform-systems.aspx

[3] D. Lumb, Venture Loon Delivers Web to 100,000 Folks in Puerto Rico, Engadget (November 09, 2017), https://www.engadget.com/2017-11-09-project-loon-delivers-internet-100-000-people-puerto-rico.html.

[4] Modernizing and Increasing Entry to the 70/80/90 GHz Bands, Discover of Proposed Rulemaking, WT Docket No. 20-133, 35 FCC Rcd 6039 (2020).

[5] Modernizing and Increasing Entry to the 70/80/90 GHz Bands, Public Discover, WT Docket No. 20-133, DA 21-1263 (rel. Oct. 8, 2021).

[6] Id. at 2-3.

[7] Id.

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