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Broadband Balloon Conference Looms Overhead

Posted: 02nd Oct, 2006 By: MarkJ
The the EU-backed CAPANINA project, which utilises High-Altitude Platforms (HAPs) to relay wireless and optical (broadband) communications, is to announce its results at a major conference in York towards the end of this month:

A University of York-led consortium, drawn from Europe and Japan, has spent three-years demonstrating the use of balloons, airships or unmanned solar-powered planes as high-altitude platforms (HAPs) to relay wireless and optical communications.

The consortium has established how the system could bring low-cost broadband connections to remote areas and even to high-speed trains. It promises data rates 2,000 times faster than via a traditional modem and 100 times faster than today's 'wired' ADSL broadband.

The results of the EU-backed CAPANINA project will be revealed in a final exhibition at the York HAP Week conference, which will showcase the applications of HAPs as a springboard for the evolution of this new high-tech sector. The project received funding from the EU under its Broadband-for-All, FP6 programme. The first objective of the CAPANINA project is to show how broadband can be delivered to rural areas across Europe.

The event, at historic Kings Manor in York from 23 to 27 October ( see http://www.yorkhapweek.org ), will feature a number of keynote speakers including Rosalie Zobel, Director, of Components and Systems in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Information Society and Media, as well as speakers from other major HAP projects worldwide, including NASA.

CAPANINA’s Principal Scientific Officer, Dr David Grace said: ”York HAP Week will not only mark the culmination of CAPANINA but also act as a catalyst for the next phase of development. Delegates will discuss the most effective ways of realising the full potential of this exciting technology.”

Nobody ever said the idea wasn't interesting and it may find markets in developing countries, although the growing abundance of cheap land-based broadband services is likely to hinder take-up elsewhere.

Sadly we’ve already used up our quota of broadband blimp jokes in previous news items (e.g. “we’re still waiting to see whether or not it ever gets off the ground”).
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