PRESS RELEASE: WORLD’S FIRST COMMERCIAL AERIAL CELL TOWER LAUNCHED BY ALTAEROS
The ST-200 SuperTower uses autonomous, tethered aerostat technology to expand coverage to rural communities
FEBRUARY 12, 2019: Massachusetts-based communications infrastructure provider, Altaeros, officially launched the world’s first commercially available aerial cell tower, the SuperTower ST-200. Altaeros successfully completed initial testing of the ST-200 at its R&D Center in southern New Hampshire.
SuperTowers use a proven aerostat platform, combined with innovative automation and control software, to deploy radios and antennas over four times higher than traditional cell towers allowing carriers to efficiently cover substantially more area than traditional towers. The ST-200 was tested with six high capacity Ericsson 4G LTE radios and three high-gain Matsing lens antennas. During initial testing, users were able to stream high-definition video at distances well beyond the reach of a typical cell site, even in the hills and forests of New England. Altaeros is initially deploying SuperTowers in partnership with carriers in the US, with plans to quickly expand internationally. You can learn more by visiting www.altaeros.com.
Historically, service providers have struggled to offer coverage in rural areas due to the high cost of building large networks of remote towers in areas with few subscribers. In its 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, the FCC reported that over 24 million Americans still lack broadband internet, and huge swaths of rural America remain unserved or underserved.
The launch of the first commercial SuperTower marks a turning point for modern, high-speed connectivity in traditionally under-served rural communities. By reducing the number of sites needed in rural markets by over 90%, the SuperTower offers a quick and inexpensive path to expand service. It can also accelerate the rollout of new technologies such as 5G and IoT in rural markets.
“There is an immense need for a better way to bring connectivity to those who have been left behind by the current generation of infrastructure,” said Ben Glass, Altaeros’ CEO. “We’re proud to be a part of the solution that will bridge this divide.”
The ST-200 is the culmination of over 8 years of aerostat research and development by Altaeros. Designed to work with many different telecom systems from any number of vendors, the ST200 is Altaeros’ largest and most capable autonomous aerostat platform to date, and the first to be made commercially available. Building upon prior versions, proprietary automation and control software keep the aerial cell tower in place in changing weather and environmental conditions and ensures a stable platform for the telecommunication equipment. Multiple tethers connect the aerostat to the ground and transmit power and data to the airborne equipment, which is key to providing significantly greater capacity than other aerial communication systems.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity this application unlocks for both Ericsson and our customers,” said Amy McCune, Head of Customer Unit Regional Carriers for Ericsson North America. “Our customers, especially those operating in rural markets, have been searching for unique and innovative solutions to expand coverage to their communities.”
- Maximum Flight Altitude: 1000 ft (305 m)
- Helium Top Off Interval: 30+ Days
- Operational Wind Speeds: 63 mph (100 kph)
- Survival Wind Speeds: 93 mph (150 kph)
- Payload Power: 7000 kW (Transmitted Through Tether)
- Data Transmission: Optical fiber in tether provides a secure data link to ground
- Redundancy: Three structurally redundant tethers minimize the chance of flyaway
- Payload Mass: Up to 440 lb (200kg)
- Payload Types: Modular payload interface allows for a wide range of payloads, including LTE, 5G, EO/IR Sensors, etc.
- Operating Modes: Fully Autonomous, Remote Control, Local Control
- Permanent installation that integrates seamlessly into existing networks
About Altaeros: Altaeros’ mission is to connect people, machines, and data, no matter where they happen to be located. Founded at MIT in 2010, we are focused on developing and deploying innovative real-world aerial infrastructure solutions to solve the most difficult infrastructure challenges. Altaeros is headquartered in Somerville, MA, and is backed by SoftBank, SPARX Group, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Suhail Bahwan Group, and others.
Learn more at www.altaeros.com