US communications outfit Sanswire has unveiled a plan to deliver line-of-sight wireless broadband and mobile phone signals to an area the size of Texas from a single transmission point. The company intends to deploy a fleet of geostationary, robotic airships hovering at a comfortable 65,000 feet above the Earth.
The makers reckon the 'Stratellite' are shooting for satellite replacement at a lower cost. Each 245-foot-long airborne transmission tower costs around $25-35m - a snip compared to putting a satellite into orbit. It's controlled by ground-based stations and relies on six GPS units coupled to the vehicle's electric motors to make sure it stays put.