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High altitude Broadband trials in Sweden

Posted on 17 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).

Go to for more details about the project.

Notes to editors:

  • The project will show how broadband connections up to 2,000 times faster than via a traditional modem and 200 times faster than today's 'wired' ADSL broadband can be delivered.
  • The University of York leads the EU FP6 project, known as 'CAPANINA'. The team will develop HAP-based systems which can use the spectrum efficiently to reach all areas. These systems will include steerable antennas which will use the latest digital signal processing.
  • York Electronics Centre at the University of York is co-ordinating the international project
  • The other European and Japanese partners specialise in various aspects, including the development and construction of equipment for trials, the creation of business models, and free-space optical communications.
  • The first objective of the CAPANINA project is to show how broadband can be delivered to rural areas across Europe.
  • CAPANINA is a 6 million Euro project involving 13 partners from across Europe and Japan. The majority of the funding comes from the EU's Framework 6 Programme.
  • 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
    • BT UK
    • Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. Germany
    • Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique SA Switzerland
    • Contraves Space AG Switzerland
    • National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Japan Japan Stratospheric Corporation Inc. Japan
    • Further details about all the partners can be found on the following web site page
  • 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. More information at
  • Images can be seen at
  • Media information:
  • Alan Gobbi +44 (0) 1904 432324 (UK / International)
  • David Grace +44 (0) 1904 432396 (UK / General technical)
  • Marco Bobbio Pallavicini +39 02 380481 (Italy / High Altitude Systems)
  • Myles Capstick +44 (0) 1904 433223 (UK / Radio trials)
  • Joachim Horwath +49 8153 281832 (Germany / Optical trials)

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153