could be used to provide mobile phone and broadband services to rural
Britain. An American company called Space Data has already used small
phone masts attached to balloons to provide wireless internet access to
remote areas. The group has supplied military and commercial clients
for four years but is now preparing to link with broadband companies to
offer services to residential customers. Space Data has patented the
service in 41 countries and is now considering the US as a potential
market. The service uses a small transceiver attached to a balloon
which then rises to an altitude of 30,500m after it has been released.
The company says that one balloon can beam a signal to an area
equivalent to 80 mobile phone towers. The service does have one
drawback, the balloons only last for 24 hours before bursting which
means a constant supply has to be released to maintain the connection
and the radio equipment on the burst balloon has to be retrieved by a
team using location devices.