I nearly sputtered into my coffee this morning when I heard about an Irish firm called Qucomhaps that claims to have raised US$355 million to develop a series of HAPS (high altitude platform stations) to radiate wireless broadband signals across Malaysia.
Reports suggest that the company plans to install the ultra-wideband WiFi base stations on board a series of second-hand military aircraft from Russia, which will circle above Malaysia in the stratophere.
Qucomhaps claims that its plans are well under way and plans to trial the technology from planes flying at around 20 kilometres high from next March onwards. The interesting operation includes a network of ground transmission gateways for the HAPS backhaul infrastructure. Plans call for five single-seater stratospheric plans to perform flight relays to allow 24x7 broadband coverage for all of Malaysia, with two planes servicing the peninsula and three to service Sabah and Sarawak.
As a technology, HAPS is nothing new, but the last major firm planning to use the system was Sanswire, which reportedly went bustola a few years ago after its parent company Globetel was accused of conducting a stock scam.
Sanswire had reportedly planned to operate a global network of airships covering almost every country in the world. And although its trials were limited, the company claimed it could offer high-speed wireless broadband at a cost significantly lower than any Internet operation anywhere in the world.
Perhaps more importantly, because IP calls could be routed to one of several international ground stations, there was scope for citizens of repressive regimes such as China to have unfettered access to the Internet for the first time. Which is something that is worth supporting IMHO. Have a great weekend everyone...