PT Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Protelindo), the largest telecommunication infrastructure company in Indonesia, has invested in UK-headquartered Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL), which seeks to provide high-bandwidth telecoms network coverage from the stratosphere using hydrogen-powered high altitude platforms (HAPS) delivered by unmanned aircraft.
SPL says this strategic partnership and investment will enable it to explore with Protelindo the development of a HAPS solution that can deliver telecoms services that address Indonesia’s challenging topography .
And it certainly is challenging, with 17,000 islands, 1.9 million square kilometres of land area, mountainous landscapes and high seas making telecommunications coverage difficult.
Once developed, SPL’s HAP unmanned aircraft will have the ability to provide direct coverage to users over 15,000 square kilometres and offer connection speeds of up to 200 Mbps.
SPL says its solution offers seamless integration with terrestrial networks and tower operators, full 5G compatibility and unparalleled connectivity across all climates, conditions and terrains. It avoids large capital expenditure requirements and provides a 100% sustainable hydrogen-powered green energy telecoms solution with last-mile connectivity applications anytime, anywhere.
As of September 2022, Protelindo owned and operated nearly 30,000 telecommunication tower sites with more than 55,000 tenants in Indonesia and owned over 100,000 kilometres of fibre.
Despite setbacks in recent years, airborne networks are still attracting intrest. We reported in 2021 that Alphabet had pulled support from its internet-beaming balloon subsidiary Loon, due to the company failing to find a financially stable business model. Since then, however, SPL has successfully trialled pioneering technology that provides 5G network coverage from the stratosphere in Saudi Arabia. SoftBank and World Mobile also announced HAPS rollout plans in late 2021.