November 19Infra · Connectivity

Facebook and Airbus Working Together to Advance High Altitude Connectivity

Yael Maguire

At Facebook, one of the ways we’re helping bring the world closer together is by pioneering new technologies to bring affordable connectivity to more people, faster. This includes our work on the Aquila program, a high altitude platform station (HAPS) broadband connectivity system.

This type of HAPS architecture includes much more than just a fleet of aircraft carrying communications payloads. It will eventually augment terrestrial and satellite networks from approximately 20 km above ground, with minimal infrastructure and maintenance. We believe that HAPS connectivity is an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent.

Connecting the world in this way will require strong collaboration between companies, organizations, and governments. We’ve been excited to see continued investment by companies in the aerospace industry to deliver connectivity to communities around the world, as well as global regulatory initiatives from aviation and spectrum organizations to enable broadband HAPS commercial services.

To further these efforts, today we announced that we’re collaborating with Airbus to advance spectrum and aviation policy and continue to demonstrate the viability of HAPS systems for providing broadband connectivity.

To be viable, HAPS requires broadband radio spectrum. Radio spectrum is the band of frequencies where radio electomagnetic waves propagate. We have been working with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and governments around the world to make more spectrum available for HAPS, and we are encouraging the ITU to facilitate the necessary spectrum identifications that will support broadband HAPS systems when they meet in November 2019 at the World Radiocommunication Conference. Similarly, we are also encouraging the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and civil aviation authorities around the world to continue their work supporting the integration of HAPS into the worldwide aviation infrastructure.

We’re committed to working closely with industry stakeholders, governments, and regulators to demonstrate how HAPS can accelerate deployment of broadband networks to help connect those without internet access. We look forward to sharing more updates as we work with Airbus to advance the use of high altitude aircraft to help connect the world.

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