SoftBank and Loon team up in global internet race

Hawk30 high-altitude drone
An artist’s conception shows HAPSMobile’s Hawk30 aircraft in flight. (HAPSMobile / SoftBank Illustration)

HAPSMobile, a joint venture created by Japan’s SoftBank Corp. and California-based AeroVironment, is jumping into the race to provide global broadband access from above, alongside SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and Telesat.

Unlike those four companies, HAPSMobile plans to use high-flying, solar-powered planes rather than satellites to transmit signals wirelessly over a wide swath of the planet’s surface. In that respect, the concept has more in common with the aerial broadband concept that Facebook was pursuing until last year.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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