- Although half of the global population is already connected to the Internet, there is a need for greater broadband connectivity and telecommunication services in communities, rural and remote areas that are undeserved.
- High-altitude platform station (HAPS) systems can potentially be used to provide both fixed broadband connectivity for end users and transmission links between the mobile and core networks for backhauling traffic. Both types of HAPS applications would enable wireless broadband deployment in remote areas, including in mountainous, coastal and desert areas.
- In some situations, HAPS may be rapidly deployed for disaster recovery communications, particularly because the use of inter-HAPS links allows the provision of services with minimal ground network infrastructure.
- ITU Radio Regulations (RR) define HAPS as radio stations located on an object at an altitude of 20-50 kilometres and at a specified, nominal, fixed point relative to the Earth.
- Some industries are currently testing the delivery of broadband access via HAPS using lightweight, solar-powered aircraft and airships at an altitude of 20-25 kilometres operating continually for several months.
- Possible global and regionally harmonized designations for HAPS at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) taking place from 28 October to 22 November 2019 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, may facilitate the development of HAPS services and allow trials to move towards commercial deployments.
- HAPS contribute, in particular, to Sustainable Development Goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) by allowing for greater broadband connectivity and telecommunication services, particularly in communities, rural and remote areas that are undeserved.
CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS: BUILDING 5G NETWORKS FOR THE FUTURE
The technological innovations and the growing urgency to expand the availability of broadband led to the development of high-altitude platform station (HAPS) systems. These easily deployable stations operating in the stratosphere (layer of the Earth’s atmosphere starting at 20 kilometres) are high enough to provide service to a large area or to augment the capacity of other broadband service providers.
HAPS is not a new concept and ITU studies of HAPS began around 1996. Nevertheless, HAPS have become more viable due to the evolution of technology through advances in solar panel efficiency, battery energy density, lightweight composite materials, autonomous avionics and antennas.
Recent test deployments delivering broadband Internet access using stations approximately 20 km above ground have demonstrated their ability to provide connectivity to remote or underserved communities.
Nevertheless, HAPS systems face challenges to becoming a commercially available option to drive global broadband delivery, especially in countries with limited infrastructure.
The current ITU-R studies estimate that the total spectrum needs for HAPS systems is in the range from 396 MHz to 2 969 MHz for the ground-to-HAPS platform links and in the range from 324 MHz to 1 505 MHz for the HAPS-platform-to-ground links. These ranges include the spectrum needs to cover specific applications (e.g. disaster relief missions) and for connectivity applications (e.g. commercial broadband).
Three world radiocommunication conferences (WRC-97, WRC-2000 and WRC-12) designated spectrum for HAPS in the frequency bands 47/48 GHz, 2 GHz, 27/31 GHz and 6 GHz respectively.
The ITU-R studies on spectrum needs for HAPS demonstrate that spectrum requirements for broadband HAPS applications may not be fully accommodated within current HAPS identifications. In addition, some of the current HAPS frequency bands have geographical limitations, while common worldwide identifications for HAPS are desirable to improve and harmonize their utilization.
Therefore, additional spectrum is being considered to be identified for HAPS systems, taking into account that HAPS will need to ensure the protection of existing and future services, such as mobile and satellite services.
The revision of the regulatory provisions for HAPS may include global or regional designations for HAPS, limitations regarding link directions, and inclusion of technical conditions of operation of HAPS systems for the protection of other services. Further conditions could be imposed on the operation of HAPS, such as mandatory coordination with potentially affected countries and notification of the stations to ITU.
Source: https://www.itu.int/en/mediacentre/backgrounders/Pages/High-altitude-platform-systems.aspx © ITU 2019 All Rights Reserved