Capanina
 

Press Releases

Broadband’s high altitude ‘revolution’ to gather pace at York

2nd October 2006

A conference in York later this month will signal the next phase of the development of an ambitious project to revolutionise broadband communications.

A University of York-led consortium, drawn from Europe and Japan, has spent three years demonstrating the use of balloons, airships or unmanned solar-powered planes as high-altitude platforms (HAPs) to relay wireless and optical communications.

The consortium has established how the system could bring low-cost broadband connections to remote areas and even to high-speed trains. It promises data rates 2,000 times faster than via a traditional modem and 100 times faster than today’s "wired" ADSL broadband.

The results of the EU-backed CAPANINA project will be revealed in a final exhibition at the York HAP Week conference, which will showcase the applications of HAPs as a springboard for the evolution of this new high-tech sector. The project received funding from the EU under its Broadband-for-All, FP6 programme. The first objective of the CAPANINA project is to show how broadband can be delivered to rural areas across Europe.

The event, at historic Kings Manor in York from 23 to 27 October (see www.yorkhapweek.org), will feature a number of keynote speakers including Rosalie Zobel, Director, of Components and Systems in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Information Society and Media, as well as speakers from other major HAP projects worldwide, including NASA.

CAPANINA’s Principal Scientific Officer, Dr David Grace said: "York HAP Week will not only mark the culmination of CAPANINA but also act as a catalyst for the next phase of development. Delegates will discuss the most effective ways of realising the full potential of this exciting technology."

Following the CAPANINA event, a HAP Application Symposium will provide a forum for leading experts to illustrate the potential of HAPs to opinion formers and telecommunications providers. The first (HAPCOS) Workshop, featuring the work of leading researchers from across Europe, will complete York HAP Week. It will focus on wireless and optical communications from HAPs, as well as the critically important field of HAP vehicle development.

The CAPANINA and HAPCOS activities have helped to forge collaborative links with more than 25 countries, including many from Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and USA. They are seeking to develop existing partnerships and forge new ones, with researchers, entrepreneurs, industry, governments as well as end users.

ENDS

Notes for Editors: click here.

 

High altitude broadband is the platform for the future

17th July 2006

A three-year project led by the University of York, which aims to revolutionise broadband communications, reaches its climax later this year.

The CAPANINA project, which uses balloons, airships or unmanned solar-powered planes as high-altitude platforms (HAPs) to relay wireless and optical communications, is due to finish its main research at the end of October.

The consortium behind the project will open York HAP Week, a conference from 23 to 27 October, which will showcase the applications of HAPs, as a springboard for future development in this new high-tech sector.

The CAPANINA Final Exhibition will open the conference by highlighting the achievements of the project, which received funding from the EU under its Broadband-for-All, FP6 programme.

The consortium, drawn from Europe and Japan, has demonstrated how the system could bring low-cost broadband connections to remote areas and even to high-speed trains. It promises data rates 2,000 times faster than via a traditional modem and 100 times faster than today’s "wired" ADSL broadband.

CAPANINA’s Principal Scientific Officer Dr David Grace said: "The potential of the system is huge, with possible applications ranging from communications for disaster management and homeland security, to environmental monitoring and providing broadband for developing countries. So far, we have considered a variety of aerial platforms, including airships, balloons, solar-powered unmanned planes and normal aeroplanes -- the latter will probably be particularly suited to establish communications very swiftly in disaster zones."

The final experimental flight will use a US-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and will take place in Arizona days before the York HAP Week conference at the city's historic King’s Manor.

Following the CAPANINA event, a HAP Application Symposium led by Dr Jorge Pereira, of the Information Society and Media Directorate-General of the European Commission, will provide a forum for leading experts to illustrate the potential of HAPs to opinion formers and telecommunications providers.

Completing the week will be the first HAPCOS Workshop, featuring the work of leading researchers from around Europe. It will focus on wireless and optical communications from HAPs, as well as the critically important field of HAP vehicle development.

The Chair of HAPCOS, Tim Tozer, of the University of York's Department of Electronics, said: "There are a number of projects worldwide that are proving the technology and we want to convince the telecommunications and the wider community of its potential. We are particularly keen to attract aerial vehicle providers."

The CAPANINA and HAPCOS activities have helped to forge collaborative links with more than 25 countries, including many from Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and USA. They are seeking to develop existing partnerships and forge new ones, with researchers, entrepreneurs, industry, governments as well as end users.

More information about York HAP Week can be found at www.yorkhapweek.org

ENDS

Notes for Editors: click here.

 

High altitude Broadband trials in Sweden

17th October 2005

The European CAPANINA research consortium, led by the University of York, has made a significant step forward in perfecting a revolutionary broadband system following high altitude trials in northern Sweden.

Carlo Gavazzi Space, one of the Italian consortium members, co-ordinated the trials at the Swedish Space Centre at Esrange and took care of the High Altitude Carrier – a stratospheric balloon.

Trials using radio and optical communications equipment were carried out, using a 12,000 m3 balloon, flying at an altitude of around 24 kilometres for nine hours.

High Altitude Platforms, such as airships, offer the scope to deliver very high data rate wireless broadband links providing a real alternative to wired or satellite connections.

The lightweight, low-cost, high speed broadband wireless access radio link equipment was designed and developed by the University of York to operate in the mm-wave band (28/29GHz). This supported data rates of 11Mbit/s and throughputs up to 4Mbit/s, using WiFi (IEEE802.11b), at distances ranging up to 60km.

Dr David Grace, the project's principal scientific officer said: "Proving the ability to operate a high data rate link from a moving stratospheric balloon is a critical step in moving towards the longer term aim of providing data rates of 120Mbits/s."

DLR, a German partner, performed the first known optical 1.25 Gbit/s downlink from the stratosphere to an optical receiver on the ground over a link distance of up to 64 km. The very high data rates offered by free space optical communications will be used for future inter platform and platform to satellite backhaul links.

The trial was a multi-partner collaboration including University of York (UK), Carlo Gavazzi Space (IT), DLR (D) and CSEM (CH). Further research work continues and additional trials are planned for 2006 in conjunction with the Japanese partners (NICT and JSC).

See the News Section for more details and photos of the trials.

ENDS

Notes for Editors: click here.

 

Broadband trials’ high-flying success

31st January 2005

Early trials of a revolutionary broadband system have been carried out successfully by the European CAPANINA research consortium, led by the University of York.

Now the consortium plans further trials, testing the feasibility of using high-altitude aerial platforms – airships or solar-powered aircraft - to bring broadband Internet to remote rural areas and even fast-moving trains.

The technology will provide broadband services which are 200 times faster than current services.

Researchers ran the trials, using a tethered balloon at a former RAF airfield at Pershore, Wiltshire, to show that it is possible to use mm-wave band (28/31GHz) and very high data-rate optical communication systems from aerial platforms.

High rate data systems allow more information to be moved in less time, making downloading a file, movie, photographs and music much faster.

SkyLINC Ltd, one of the UK-based partners in CAPANINA, successfully set up a tethered aerial platform and made several preliminary radio frequency tests to and from the balloon. BTExact (part of BT) were also able to use the platform to trial several broadband applications, such as video on demand and high-speed Internet.

To conclude the tests, DLR, a German-based partner, carried out some critical optical communication tracking tests. Optical techniques offer very high data-rate communications and are being developed to provide links between two aerial platforms, or between an aerial platform and a ground station.

CAPANINA aims to deliver wireless broadband at speeds of up to 120Mbits/second from aerial platforms such that rural, suburban and moving users can have cost-effective broadband communications. The ultimate aim is to have a number of the platforms in the stratosphere at altitudes of around 20km with one platform serving a region of approximately 60km.

Spurred on by the successes further trials using higher altitude platforms are planned involving CGS from Italy and NICT from Japan.

ENDS

Notes for Editors: click here.

 

Broadband for All from High Altitude Platforms -
York leads international project

19th January 2004

An international project aims to make Broadband available to remote rural areas and even to moving trains, thanks to ‘High Altitude Platforms’ (HAPs).

HAPs are airships or solar-powered aircraft which are permanently located in the skies at an altitude of 20 km, above aeroplanes but below satellites.
Solar Powered Plane

This solution will be cheaper and more efficient than current technologies.

High Altitude Platforms do not require underground cabling or masts to connect a user - which can be both expensive and inconvenient - to deliver broadband.

HAPs will serve mass markets with high-speed communications – unlike satellites.

The HAPs technology is ideal for rural, suburban and other hard-to-reach areas, including users who are on the move.

Stratospheric Balloon
"The opportunities offered by HAPs are exciting," said Dr David Grace, the project’s Principal Scientific Officer.

"Demand for fast communication is increasing all over the world, and this technology offers a unique way of delivering broadband inexpensively to people at home, in the office, and on the move."

"The project will deliver broadband connections which are 2,000 times faster than via a traditional modem and 200 times faster than today’s ‘wired’ ADSL broadband."

The University of York leads the project, known as ‘CAPANINA’. Researchers at York will investigate the most effective way to operate wireless communication links via HAPs, including propagation and resource management.

The team will develop HAPs-based systems which can use the spectrum efficiently to reach all areas.
HAP Coverage

These systems will include steerable antennas which will use the latest digital signal processing.

York Electronics Centre will coordinate the international project and ensure that results from across the world are published and exploited.

The other European and Japanese partners will specialise in various aspects, including the development and construction of equipment for trials, the creation of business models, and free-space optical communications.

These use ‘line of sight’ light beams to communicate at high speedbetween two locations.

The first objective of the CAPANINA project is to deliver broadband connections to rural areas across Europe.

The team hopes to achieve this in the next four years.
Ultimately, the team will look at delivering Broadband to moving trains.
This will involve ‘smart’ antenna systems, which link with access points on the train.
This will give passengers high-speed Internet connections from ‘Wi-Fi’ enabled lap-tops.

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

  • CAPANINA is a €6 million project involving 14 partners from across Europe and Japan. The majority of the funding comes from the EU’s Framework 6 program. The project is named after the restaurant in Italy where initial discussions were held.
  • David Grace is CAPANINA’s Principal Scientific Officer. He is based in the Communications Research Group in York’s Department of Electronics. Graham Long of York Electronics Centre is Project Manager.
  • York Electronics Centre is an industrial unit at the University of York, which provides design, development and project management services to industry.
  • CAPANINA partners are:
    University of York UK
    Jozef Stefan Institute Slovenia
    CERCOM/Dipartimento di Elettronica
    - Politecnico di Torino
    Italy
    EuroConcepts s.r.l Italy
    Universitat Politecnica Catalunya/Department.TSC Spain
    Carlo Gavazzi Space S.p.A. Italy
    Budapest University of Technology and Economics Hungary
    BTexact Technologies UK
    Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. Germany
    SkyLINC Ltd. UK
    Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique SA Switzerland
    Contraves Space AG Switzerland
    National Institute of Information and Communications Technology
    (formally Communications Research Laboratory)
    Japan
    Japan Stratospheric Corporation Inc. Japan
    Further details about all the partners can be found on the CAPANINA Consortium Partners page.
  • High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) are either airships or planes, which operate in the stratosphere, 17 - 22 km above the ground.
  • HAPCOS - COST 297 HAPCOS was established in 2005 as a collaborative discussion forum funded by the European Science Foundation’s COST initiative, following the initial success of CAPANINA. More information at www.hapcos.org.
  • HAPCOS has three working groups, specialising in ‘Radio Communications’, ‘Optical Communications’ and ‘Platforms’. The Secretariat of HAPCOS is based at the University of York. It has technical experts from 17 European countries.
  • More information about York HAP Week can be found at www.yorkhapweek.org.
  • Journalists who wish to attend York HAP Week should, in the first instance, contact David Garner on +44 (0)1904 432153 or dcg501@york.ac.uk.
  • The Department of Electronics at York has a high reputation for teaching and research, with current research funding exceeding 5 million Euro. The key personnel for CAPANINA are the members of the Communications Research Group and Physical Layer Research Group, which collectively have approximately 40 staff and research students. The Groups have participated in a number of EU projects including the HeliNet project, the forerunner of CAPANINA, and FLOWS which is dealing with flexible convergence of wireless standards and services, including multi-band antenna array design. The Groups’ other activities and expertise, include:
    • System level communications system design, including specialist knowledge of radio resource management for satellites and terrestrial systems
    • Adaptive modulation and coding, including MIMO and turbo codes
    • Digital receiver architecture design and signal processing
    • Millimetrewave and microwave hardware design
    • Applied Electromagnetics and EMC.