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Japanese Telco-Led Consortium Invests in Airbus’ AALTO HAPS

By Mark Holmes | June 3, 2024

The Airbus Zephyr HAPS system. Photo: Airbus

Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo, Mizuho Bank (the Development Bank of Japan), and Space Compass Corporation announced Monday that they have partnered on a $100 million investment in Airbus subsidiary AALTO HAPS (AALTO), the manufacturer and operator of the stratospheric, solar-powered Zephyr High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS).

This investment marks the beginning of a strategic alliance to commercialize connectivity and EO services using HAPS in Japan and across Asia. It will also support the industrial and commercial roadmap for AALTO’s services, targeting launch in Japan and a global entry-into-service in 2026. Flying for months at a time in the stratosphere, Zephyr will aim to offer strong capabilities for mobile connectivity and EO. As a payload agnostic platform, Zephyr aims to transform into a multi-functional tower in the sky to provide low latency 5G direct-to-device mobile connectivity services.

“NTT DOCOMO continues to improve network quality and has been focused on establishing new technology frontiers that enhance access to connectivity services. Working with our partners Space Compass, AALTO and Airbus, we are excited by the potential of HAPS-based NTN solutions. This technology brings together unique cutting-edge engineering with economics that are aligned to expand coverage to rural and remote areas, and support our collective response to natural disasters,” Takaaki Sato, CTO, NTT DoCoMo, said in a statement.

“This [investment] is a landmark investment for AALTO,” said AALTO CEO Samer Halawi. “It is the natural next step in the roadmap of the Company’s targeted entry-into-service in 2026, as we industrialize and commercialize our technology. With world leaders in aviation and connectivity as shareholders, AALTO now has the combination of technological expertise and global reach to capitalize on the growth opportunities in substantial total addressable markets across connectivity and earth observation.”