AALTO HAPS, an Airbus subsidiary, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enter a strategic partnership with STC Group, the Saudi digital enabler in the region, that will involve introducing high altitude platform station (HAPS)-based solutions to Saudi Arabia.
AALTO HAPS is an Airbus subsidiary that provides services from its stratospheric Zephyr solar-powered aircraft for mobile connectivity, platform mobility, earth observation, and government applications.
STC Group will have access to AALTO’s solutions when the company rolls out commercial services by the end of 2024. Those solutions will enable STC to expand its geographical coverage to rural and remote areas currently unconnected, improving service quality. In addition, HAPS solutions can serve to augment coverage during critical events and can be deployed quickly and easily in case of natural disasters.
AALTO’s Zephyr HAPS flies in the stratosphere, above conventional air traffic, and provides low latency, direct-to-device 4G/5G services, acting as a tower in the sky with the capability to complement terrestrial networks.
It has a coverage of 7,500 square kilometres which is the equivalent of up to 250 towers on the ground. In areas of lower population densities or difficult terrain, Zephyr integrates seamlessly in the mobile operators’ networks and, says AALTO, becomes the right technical and economic solution to expand the edge of coverage of those mobile networks.
This isn’t the first time HAPS and Saudi Arabia have been in the news. As we reported at the time, earlier this year UK company Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL), a partner of German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom, successfully trialled pioneering technology that provides 5G network coverage from the stratosphere in Saudi Arabia.