2006.07.03-1

“Cell Tower” Balloons

Following are some excerpts from a recent Yahoo News article about “cell tower” balloons.

Cell towers are expensive, costing from $100,000 to more than $1 million to set up. They also present logistical problems, such as clearing local regulations and finding suitable placement.

Space Data uses standard weather balloons, which cost about $50 each, to carry special purpose cell towers. These towers are small — 10 cubic inches — and light — less than 12 pounds. The balloons travel 20 miles above the earth, well above commercial airliner pathways. Because of their highflying position, the devices cover a larger area — from 50 miles to 500 miles — than traditional cell towers.

“Now that carriers have deployed cell stations throughout metropolitan areas, they are searching for ways to reach more remote locations, like Montana, as well as camp sites and parks,” said Neil Strother, an analyst at market research firm NPD Group.

The approach is expected to take root first in areas that are far off main highways or away from cities.

In other words, the very places that people have moved to to get away from such exposure.

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