Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Oceus Networks’ LTE Balloon Trial for Public Safety

Oceus Networks and Space Data Corporation successfully completed a test this week of an Oceus Networks’ deployable 4G LTE Xiphos™ system housed on a Space Data balloon platform to transmit an LTE signal at high altitude near Boulder, Colorado. The 4G LTE balloon platform rose to heights greater than 70,000 feet and transmitted an LTE network signal that provided a 100 km radius of coverage.  Using LTE Band 14 devices, Motorola’s  LEX 700 smart phone and data modems, transmissions were successfully made to the mobile airborne LTE  network.

Caption: Oceus Networks President Randy Fuerst on-site filling one of the four balloons used in the trial.

The experiment was conducted to gather data on how 4G LTE deployed on airborne platforms could support first responders using LTE Band 14, spectrum dedicated to FirstNet for a nation-wide broadband public safety network.  Specifically, the trial supports the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture (DACA) proceeding, which is exploring how to provide coverage to our nation’s first responders in the first 72 hours after a disaster when traditional terrestrial communications infrastructure may be unavailable or only partially available.  Oceus Networks and Space Data Corporation will share the results of the DACA demonstration in a filing with the FCC after the data is compiled and analyzed over the next few weeks. 



Caption: Oceus Networks and Space Data team releasing the 4G LTE balloon platform—on its way up to 70,000 feet!


At 70,000 feet, the 4G LTE balloon platform was visible from nearby Denver, Colorado sparking calls and emails to local new stations.   9 News, a local Colorado station, reported on these sightings and the object in the sky. Coincidentally, the test occurred on World UFO Day! Doug Sharp, director of engineering at Oceus Networks, quickly set the record straight on the tests:

Caption: The 4G LTE balloon platform at 75,000 feet.