World's first 5G communication from altitude of 4km

29th May 2024
Harry Fowle

SKY Perfect JSAT, NTT DOCOMO, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), and Panasonic jointly announced that they have successfully conducted a 5G communication verification test in the 38GHz band from an altitude of approximately 4km using a small Cessna aircraft operated by Kyoritsu Air Survey simulating the eventual use of High-Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS). The demonstration was the first of its kind in the world.

In this groundbreaking trial to demonstrate the practical application of 5G feeder link and backhaul line for HAPS, a Cessna aircraft was equipped with newly developed communication equipment that is expected to be deployed eventually in HAPS. Additionally, a lens-type antenna with an auto-tracking function was used as the HAPS ground station.

The trial established an aerial relay backhaul line between the Cessna aircraft, flying at altitude of approximately 4km, and three ground stations, using the 5G New Radio (NR) standard with 38GHz band radio waves, which is a novel approach for terrestrial 5G networks. The achievement of multiple backhaul line consisting of aerial relays using the 5G NR standard with 38GHz band radio waves was a world first in telecommunication technology.

Verification test

With 5G evolution underway and 6G implementation on the horizon, various efforts are being made to expand coverage areas. Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) using HAPS is a promising technology for such expansions, so the results from this demonstration will help accelerate the practical application of HAPS networks.

The four organisations involved in this project are committed to continuing their joint efforts, aiming at the early delivery of 5G from the stratosphere via an NTN using HAPS.

The demonstration is part of a project focused on wireless communication systems using HAPS led by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

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