Boston-based startup Altaeros has demonstrated a new “SuperTower” to help operators deploy LTE in hard-to-reach rural communities using tethered aerostats, the industrial versions of blimps.
Altaeros partnered with Ericsson to successfully deploy an multi-sector LTE base station on a SuperTower in late 2017 in rural Maine, the northeasternmost U.S. state, providing broadband speeds with streaming video.
According to Altaeros, rural markets like Maine are ideal for operators to deploy SuperTowers which float at heights six to eight times higher than most cell towers, offer greater flexibility for site placement, cost up to 70 percent less to roll out, provide coverage equivalent to a network of 30 conventional cell towers and have less impact on the environment.
Altaeros said it developed the SuperTower to offer operators a new infrastructure option that provides the broad coverage advantages of satellites and aerial platforms, while seamlessly integrating with existing handsets by using the same radios, antennas and permitting processes as standard towers.
The offering utilizes Altaeros’ proprietary tethered aerostat design and automation technology as a platform for Ericsson’s 5G-ready high-performance radio system with MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) capable radios.
SuperTowers can also be deployed for temporary disaster relief or special events. They will be available to operators in late 2018.