Sceye, a material science company and manufacturer of high altitude platform stations (HAPS), announced that it successfully connected a 4G antenna with 3D beamforming from the stratosphere. Sceye’s unmanned stratospheric platform launched at 8:55 a.m. MDT from its New Mexico facility and landed safely at 1:05 p.m. MDT on October 30. 

This launch was part of Sceye’s test plan to demonstrate the feasibility of extending high speed internet services to unserved and underserved populations bridging the digital divide. Sceye is performing these demonstrations for its clients, which include one of the industry’s largest private telecommunications carriers, the State of New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) and a consortium of telecommunications carriers focused on providing 100 percent connectivity across the Navajo Nation.

“We’ve reached another milestone in proving broadband internet connectivity is possible from the stratosphere,” said Sceye CEO and Founder Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen. “And with the connectivity achieved today, we’re confident we can use our altitude and long range to expand broadband coverage to the underserved.”

The demonstration proved the system and infrastructure are network-ready and demonstrated that the HAPS can successfully connect to devices on the ground. This is the first time an active array antenna with 3D beamforming technology connected directly from the stratosphere to a smartphone on the ground. While airborne, the company conducted a round of tests to improve upon the data connection range of its systems. Standard LTE technology allows for a range of 100 km. Sceye’s systems have exceeded that standard and previously connected the active array at 140 km from a helicopter. Successfully repeating the long range test from the stratosphere is important due to the unique low pressure and low temperature environment.  

Sceye is also partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EDD and New Mexico Environment Department on a five-year study to monitor air quality in the State of New Mexico. Sceye’s HAPS will track methane emissions with a 1 to 2 m resolution, allowing them to determine pollution levels as well as pinpoint individual emitters.