PT Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Protelindo) – the largest telecom infrastructure company in Indonesia – and UK-based Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL) have joined forces to deliver broadband connectivity to the archipelago using High Altitude Platforms (HAPS).
Under the new partnership and investment deal with Protelindo, SPL will explore the development of an innovative HAPS solution using hydrogen-powered unmanned aircraft to deliver high bandwidth network coverage across Indonesia’s archipelagic landscape and mountainous terrain, which have long posed a challenge for telecoms providers.
The unmanned aircraft will have the ability to provide direct coverage over an area of 15,000 square kilometers from an altitude of around 20,000 meters for up to eight days at a time.
Designed for the stratosphere
The platform uses a lightweight antenna solution from Cambridge Consultants (owned by Capgemini) that was designed especially for the types of environmental conditions encountered at that altitude. For example, the thin air presents challenges with equipment cooling.
SPL says the platform can deliver downlink data speeds of up to 200 Mbps. It also says the solution is 5G-compatible and can integrate smoothly with terrestrial networks regardless of climate or location.
Furthermore, SPL says the technology is a cost-effective alternative to the large capital expenditure and investments traditionally needed for telecoms infrastructure.
As part of the agreement, SPL is exploring potential applications such as enabling last-mile connectivity in rural areas.
Protelindo seeks ‘tower in the sky’
“We are delighted to be working with the Protelindo team as we look forward to building on our recent 5G stratospheric demonstrations and move to our production standard hydrogen-powered aircraft and full-service roll-out,” said SPL CEO Richard Deakin.
“We believe SPL’s HAP aircraft can serve as a ‘tower in the sky’ for areas with telecom coverage challenges,” emphasized Ferdinandus Aming Santoso, CEO of the Protelindo Group. “This capability is relevant in both developed and emerging markets.”
Founded in 2014 and backed by Europe’s largest operator Deutsche Telekom, SPL also recently announced it is collaborating with BT Group to test its antenna technology at BT’s Adastral Park R&D headquarters in the UK. The tests aim to demonstrate how the technology can provide 4G and 5G connectivity in hard-to-reach areas.