BT Group, the U.K.’s largest broadband and mobile services provider, has partnered with Stratospheric Platforms Ltd. (SPL) to test a high-altitude platform station aircraft for 4G and 5G coverage in remote areas of the United Kingdom. The testing has already begun at BT Group’s global research and development headquarters at Adastral Park in Ipswich. The SPL’s phased array antenna can deliver up to 150Mbps across areas as wide as 140 km or 15,000 square km. The aerial platform is a hydrogen-powered and autonomous plane that will take to the stratosphere for a week at a time, reducing the amount of ground-based infrastructure needed.
The project is expected to have significant environmental benefits, potentially saving 0.45 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by replacing existing cell tower sites with this more efficient solution. In addition to the obvious data delivery performance improvements from better connection speeds and wider coverage areas, this initiative could also provide disaster relief support, enable remote monitoring across various industrial/agricultural uses & provide reliable 4G/5G connectivity where it is needed most.
In addition to this testing initiative, BT Group recently announced plans to transition mainframe applications from its Digital Unit into cloud environment through its partnership with Kyndryl. This move would not only reduce operating costs & energy consumption by 70%, but also create more efficiency between their systems while providing customers with better products, services and experience overall. This joint effort between BT Group and SPL reflects both companies’ commitment to bridging digital divides and delivering reliable connectivity solutions around the world. With important environmental benefits going hand-in-hand with improved performance capabilities, these advancements are sure to make an impact on local communities and worldwide industries alike in both short-term as well as long-term scenarios.
BT Group is continuously working on initiatives to bring high-speed connectivity and better digital services. Alongside the recent agreement with Kyndryl, this new partnership with SPL could prove to be an even more significant breakthrough for BT Group’s ambition of providing reliable and cost-effective 4G/5G coverage across rural parts of the UK. With the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and provide improved coverage capabilities, this initiative is sure to have a positive impact on customers across the United Kingdom and beyond. The results of this testing are expected to be announced later in 2021, with a potential roll-out date for the platform station aircraft by early 2022.