High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) for wireless communication include vehicles such as balloons, drones, or blimps that are placed in the stratosphere to improve internet connectivity. These vehicles operate in the stratosphere at 17-22 km above ground, which is approximately twice the cruising altitude of airplanes. They contain equipment that is used to receive internet connectivity from a ground station and relay that on to more remote areas.
Airborne transmission vehicles are easier to deploy than towers or fibre infrastructure, in particular in underdeveloped or remote regions, or in areas of conflict.
There are a number of companies that are investigating HAPs for wireless communication, the most prominent being Facebook and Alphabet. Other companies, such as Capanina, are using HAP for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) communication, while Lockheed Martin is investigating HAP for military applications.
Because Facebook and Alphabet have the most mature implementations of HAP for wireless communication, their initiatives will be described in more detail.