Blue Danube Systems, a provider of intelligent wireless access solutions that help mobile operators address the challenge of explosive data growth, announced that its 3D beamforming radio systems have been used to provide the first broadband communications from the stratosphere to cellular users on the ground. Blue Danube’s BeamCraft™ 500 was launched and operated on an unmanned stratospheric platform as part of a project in New Mexico led by Sceye, a material science company and high altitude platform stations (HAPS) manufacturer, on Saturday, October 30.

The test launch was part of Sceye’s plan to demonstrate the feasibility of extending high-speed internet services over a wide area from the stratosphere. Blue Danube and Sceye had previously demonstrated communications connectivity from the active array at 140 km range.

Blue Danube’s radio unit (RU) systems are the optimum choice for providing communications from any airborne platform. The underlying cost-effective phased array technology can be applied to any frequency band. The RU has been tested and hardened for low temperature, low pressure (stratosphere) conditions and performed flawlessly at over 60,000 ft. altitude.

Using the Blue Danube adaptive beamforming RU operating in mid-band frequencies, exceptionally accurate beams were demonstrated with dynamic sidelobe control and 23dBi antenna gain. RF signals were dynamically controlled and coordinated through 3D-beam shaping, tilting and power distribution in real-time, responding to HAPS movements and environmental conditions. This is the first time such a commercial system has been deployed in the stratosphere. Mid-band operation in the 2 GHz frequency range allows the same large bandwidth and throughput as terrestrial 4G/5G networks. Future form factors provide higher antenna gains and optimized size, weight and power for airborne and satellite platforms.

Mark Pinto, CEO of Blue Danube said, “Blue Danube has demonstrated another significant use case for our 3D beamforming technology to provide high-speed broadband service over a wide area from an airborne platform. This builds on our unique ability to cost-effectively produce precise, RF coherency-based 3D beams to achieve significant 5G capacity increases. With this successful trial from the stratosphere, we enable an operator to provide extended coverage and service, where and when they want it.”