SoftBank invests $125 million in Alphabet venture to put cellphone antennas in the sky

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A SoftBank Corp business seeking to find a way to fly cellphone antennas high in the atmosphere to provide internet in underserved areas said on Wednesday it was investing $125 million in an Alphabet Inc spinoff working on the same problem.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

SoftBank’s year-old HAPSMobile and Alphabet’s Loon, which spun out last July from the research incubator of the Google parent, separately have been trying to fly networking equipment at high altitudes to provide high-speed internet where ground-based towers are unreachable.

Loon carries the gear with a large balloon, while HAPSMobile uses a large drone.

Despite internet coverage gaps in rural areas or during natural disasters, mobile network operators, governments and other potential customers have yet to demonstrate much enthusiasm for buying skyborne technologies.

Also in the competition to fill the coverage gaps are several billionaire entrepreneurs, including Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Each is backing separate early-stage ventures that want to beam internet from satellites in near-Earth orbit.

Loon and HAPSMobile said on Wednesday that collaboration could be the key to adoption. They are discussing the possibility of using each others’ technology, standardizing their airborne and ground networking gear and joining forces in regulatory discussions, they said in a statement.

The companies described their partnership as a “long-term” tie-up of one of Japan’s top three wireless carriers and one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

“I’m confident we can accelerate the path toward the realization of utilizing the stratosphere for global networks by pooling our technologies, insights and experience,” Junichi Miyakawa, SoftBank’s chief technology officer and HAPSMobile’s chief executive, said in the statement.

“Even in this current era of coming 5G services, we cannot ignore the reality that roughly half of the world’s population is without internet access,” Miyakawa added.

Loon has tested balloons for nearly a decade and expects to hold its first commercial trial in Kenya this year.

HAPSMobile emerged from technology developed by dronemaker AeroVironment Inc, which owns 10 percent of the SoftBank subsidiary.

Loon said it has the option to later invest $125 million in HAPSMobile.

Reporting by Paresh Dave, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Source link

more recommended stories

  • Circuit breakers trip, shares soar as China’s Nasdaq-style bourse debuts

    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Trading hit a.

  • White House to host meeting with tech executives on Huawei ban: sources

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House economic.

  • Equifax nears deal to pay about $700 million to settle U.S. data breach probes: WSJ

    FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax.

  • Four Republican lawmakers ask Trump to move forward with $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four Republican members.

  • Confusion builds over U.S. ban on Chinese surveillance technology

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contractors who buy.

  • Trump tells France’s Macron U.S. concerned with proposed digital services tax

    U.S. President Donald Trump reacts during.

  • SoftBank raises $270 million via Seoul unit for early-stage investments

    FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank.

  • UK’s new PM must take 5G decision on Huawei urgently: committee

    LONDON (Reuters) – The new prime.

  • Russia fines Google for failing to filter search results

    FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is.

  • SoftBank’s Son says Japan lacks investment opportunities, is AI ‘developing country’

    FILE PHOTO: Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

  • Amazon under EU antitrust fire over use of merchant data

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Amazon became the.

  • Ericsson says on track for 2020 targets as second-quarter profit matches forecasts

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Mobile network gear.

  • U.S. Justice Department asks appeals court to pause antitrust ruling against Qualcomm

    FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is.

  • Senate to grill Facebook over plans for Libra cryptocurrency

    WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers.

  • Amazon rivals ride on Prime Day marketing as protests unfold

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s.

  • Huawei to invest $3.1 billion in Italy but calls for fair policy on 5G: country CEO

    MILAN (Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies.

  • Amazon workers in Germany to strike over pay, Verdi union says

    FILE PHOTO: An Amazon sign is.

  • Israel holds 5G mobile network tender, aims for 2020 launch

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel launched a.

  • China’s Ping An to invest in education startup iTutorGroup

    BEIJING (Reuters) – Ping An Insurance.

  • U.S. regulators approve $5 billion Facebook settlement over privacy issues: source

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade.

  • Japan sets up working group on impact of Facebook’s Libra ahead of G7

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese authorities have.

  • Volkswagen zooms ahead in extension of alliance with Ford to electric, automated cars

    , NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ford.

  • Macquarie-backed MEIF 6 Fibre outbids USSL for telecoms firm KCOM

    (Reuters) – Macquarie-backed MEIF 6 Fibre.

  • Trump blasts Bitcoin, Facebook’s Libra, demands they face banking regulations

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Twitter back up partially after worldwide outage

    FILE PHOTO – The Twitter logo.

  • French Senate approves tax as U.S. opens probe into digital levy

    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Senate on.

  • U.S. to probe French plan to tax tech companies

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Need quick medical advice in Britain? Ask Alexa

    (Reuters) – Britain’s state-run health service.

  • Appetizing prospects: Uber founder takes aim at South Korea’s shared kitchen market

    SEOUL (Reuters) – Chef Youm Jung-phil.

  • U.S. to provide licenses for sales to Huawei if national security protected

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government.

  • Nine companies set prices for listings on China’s Nasdaq-style tech board

    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Nine Chinese companies,.

  • Facebook not invited to White House social media summit: company

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc said.