Solar-powered UAV delivers broadband to smartphones

Zephyr was conceived, designed and built by Qinetiq in the UK.

Solar-powered UAV delivers broadband to smartphones


In 18-day stratospheric flights Zephyr’s radio transmitter provided a datalink  to simulate future direct-to-device connectivity.


Tests included various bandwidths to simulate direct-to-device service from the HAPS to end users using low, nominal and high throughput.




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The demonstration confirmed the viability and versatility of the 2 GHz spectrum for HAPS-based services and also the use of a narrow (450 MHz) band to provide connectivity in a range of up to 140km.

Airbus and NTT Docomo aim to provide communication services to mountainous areas, remote islands, and maritime areas where radio waves are difficult to reach.

Solar-powered UAV delivers broadband to smartphones

“Docomo believes that HAPS will be a promising solution for coverage expansion in 5G evolution and 6G,” says Docomo’s Takehiro Nakamura, “in this measurement experiment, we were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of HAPS, especially for direct communication to smartphones, through long-term propagation measurements using actual HAPS equipment. Based on these results, we would like to further study the practical application of HAPS in 5G evolution and 6G.”