Japan Plans 2025 Launch of Flying Cell Towers (HAPS) to Expand Network Coverage in Remote Areas

Japan is hustling to put itself back on the global telecom map. In 2025, it plans to launch flying cell towers called high altitude platform stations (HAPS). These unmanned vehicles will chill out in the stratosphere and provide wider network coverage below.

In recent years, countries have been scrambling to roll out 5G – the fastest wireless connection available. China has been killing the 5G game, installing over three million base stations. That leaves the US in the dust, according to Interesting Engineering.

Right now, over five billion peeps worldwide use the internet, says Statista. But in parts of Africa, only 24 percent of people have internet access. It’s tough to set up cell towers in remote areas – and that’s a big reason for crappy coverage. HAPS aims to fix that issue.

So how will floating Japanese cell towers work? HAPS will be like drones, hovering around 20 kilometers (12 miles) above us. They’ll provide 4G and 5G wireless connectivity across hard-to-reach rural areas and disaster zones.

Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank is behind this plan. They’re teaming up with aircraft maker HAPSMobile to launch the first HAPS by 2025. The cell tower drone will stay afloat for months, powered by the sun.

SoftBank says HAPS will bring affordable internet to remote islands, mountainous areas and developing countries in Asia and Africa. The tech could also be a backup connectivity system when natural disasters strike.

Experts say floating cell towers are a game changer for connecting billions of people currently offline. HAPS provide wide coverage without needing cell towers on every block.

Japan pioneered research on HAPS back in the 1990s. But lately, Chinese companies have taken the lead in developing stratosphere-dwelling networks. With this launch, Japan hopes to prove it’s still a high-flyer in telecom tech.