Solar-powered drone provides first LTE connection from stratosphere

The solar-powered drone from Google's parent company Alphabet and SoftBank provided the first LTE connection from the stratosphere to enable a “high-definition” and “low-latency” video call.

Solar-powered drone provides first LTE connection from stratosphere

Especially, in the wake of wildfires and hurricanes airborne cell towers seem to offer a number of advantages. For one they can be flown to the areas where they are most needed, and secondly, they can cover much greater areas.

Today, Alphabet and Japanese Softbank announced that they established a stable LTE connection from a solar-powered drone 62,000 feet high in the stratosphere, according to The Verge. In fact, the connection was so good that an international “high-definition” and “low-latency” video call between people in and America, including Vint Cerf one of the ‘fathers of the Internet,' could be made.

Solar-Powered Drone Provides First Lte Connection From Stratosphere

Sunglider drone is powered by the sun

This test resulted from a partnership between Alphabet's Loon and SoftBank's HAPSMobile. The latter builds the unmanned aircraft, called the Sunglider, whereas the former provides the communications payload.

The massive autonomous solar-powered drone is designed to stay in the stratosphere for months at a time. The Sunglider drone looks like a large singular wing spanning some 255 fight across. A top speed of 68 mph can be achieved by 10 powerful propellers. This might seem slow for regular aircraft, however, the Sunglider aims for endurance and not maximum velocity. High above commercial flights, in the stratosphere, the Sunglider will provide an LTE connection, recharge its batteries and fly itself.

Solar-Powered Drone Provides First Lte Connection From Stratosphere

Solar-Powered Drone Provides First Lte Connection From Stratosphere 1

A first for a fixed-wing solar-powered drone

HAPSMobile said that the successful LTE connection was a world's first for an autonomous fixed-wing drone.

“The payload performed as planned in the demanding conditions of the stratosphere where wind speeds reached greater than 58 knots (approximately 30 meters per second) and temperatures were as low as -73 degrees Celsius,” said the company.

HAPSMobile CEO and president Junichi Miyakawa said in a press release that the test flight took the company one step closer to realizing its goal of creating green aircraft that can provide high-speed internet anywhere in the world.

“Watching this test flight, I was reminded of Castle in the Sky, the anime directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1986, and how the airship in the story filled me with aspiration,” said Miyakawa. “We once again moved one step closer to our goal of building a base station that floats in the sky solely on solar energy.”

Solar-Powered Drone Provides First Lte Connection From Stratosphere

YouTube video

Solar-Powered Drone Provides First Lte Connection From Stratosphere 2

Droneu Marketing Banner Ad 1

Stay in touch!

If you'd like to stay up to date with all the latest drone news, scoops, rumors, and reviews, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or…

Subscribe to our Daily Drone News email.*


Submit tips If you have information or tips that you would like to share with us, feel free to submit them hereSupport You can support by using these links when you make your next drone purchase: Adorama, Amazon, B&H, BestBuy, eBay, DJI, Parrot, and Yuneec. We make a small commission when you do so at no additional expense to you. Thank you for helping DroneXL grow! FTC: uses affiliate links that generate income.

* We do not sell, share, rent out or spam your email, ever. Our email goes out on weekdays around 5:30 p.m.

Discover more from DroneXL

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Proposed legislation threatens your ability to use drones for fun, work, and safety. The Drone Advocacy Alliance is fighting to ensure your voice is heard in these critical policy discussions.Join us and tell your elected officials to protect your right to fly.

Drone Advocacy Alliance
Follow us on Google News!

Get your Part 107 Certificate

Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.

pilot institute dronexl

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. The content, images, and intellectual property on this website are protected by copyright law. Reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from is strictly prohibited. For permissions and inquiries, please contact us first.

FTC: is an Amazon Associate and uses affiliate links that can generate income from qualifying purchases. We do not sell, share, rent out, or spam your email.

Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

Articles: 3598

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.