Broadband's high altitude 'revolution' to gather pace at York

A conference in York later this month will signal the next phase of the development of an ambitious project to revolutionise broadband communications.

A University of York-led consortium, drawn from Europe and Japan, has spent three-years demonstrating the use of balloons, airships or unmanned solar-powered planes as high-altitude platforms (HAPs) to relay wireless and optical communications.

The consortium has established how the system could bring low-cost broadband connections to remote areas and even to high-speed trains. It promises data rates 2,000 times faster than via a traditional modem and 100 times faster than today's 'wired' ADSL broadband.

The results of the EU-backed CAPANINA project will be revealed in a final exhibition at the York HAP Week conference, which will showcase the applications of HAPs as a springboard for the evolution of this new high-tech sector. The project received funding from the EU under its Broadband-for-All, FP6 programme. The first objective of the CAPANINA project is to show how broadband can be delivered to rural areas across Europe.

The event, at historic Kings Manor in York from 23 to 27 October (see, will feature a number of keynote speakers including Rosalie Zobel, Director, of Components and Systems in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Information Society and Media, as well as speakers from other major HAP projects worldwide, including NASA.

CAPANINA's Principal Scientific Officer, Dr David Grace said: "York HAP Week will not only mark the culmination of CAPANINA but also act as a catalyst for the next phase of development. Delegates will discuss the most effective ways of realising the full potential of this exciting technology."

Following the CAPANINA event, a HAP Application Symposium will provide a forum for leading experts to illustrate the potential of HAPs to opinion formers and telecommunications providers. The first (HAPCOS) Workshop, featuring the work of leading researchers from across Europe, will completeYork HAP Week. It will focus on wireless and optical communications from HAPs, as well as the critically important field of HAP vehicle development.

The CAPANINA and HAPCOS activities have helped to forge collaborative links with more than 25 countries, including many from Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and USA. They are seeking to develop existing partnerships and forge new ones, with researchers, entrepreneurs, industry, governments as well as end users.


Notes to Editors:

  • More information about York HAP Week can be found at
  • The University of York leads the EU FP6 project, known as 'CAPANINA.' The team is developing HAP-based systems which can use the spectrum efficiently to reach all areas. They will include steerable antennas which will use the latest digital signal processing. The team is also assisting in techno-economic aspects of HAP-based systems and has developed a number of business models for communications applications from HAPs.
  • Journalists who wish to attend York HAP Week should, in the first instance, contact David Garner on +44 (0)1904 432153 or [email protected]
  • Graham Long, Manager of the York Electronics Centre at the University of York is co-ordinating the international project.
  • The other European and Japanese partners specialise in various aspects, including the development and construction of equipment for trials, and free-space optical communications.
  • CAPANINA is a €6 million project involving 13 partners from across Europe and Japan. The majority of the funding comes from the EU's Framework 6 Programme.

CAPANINA partners are:

  • University of York, UK.
  • Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia.
  • CERCOM/Dipartimento di Elettronica - Politecnico di Torino, Italy.
  • EuroConcepts s.r.l, Italy.
  • Universitat Politecnica Catalunya/Department.TSC, Spain.
  • Carlo Gavazzi Space S.p.A., Italy.
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary.
  • BT UK.
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., Germany.
  • Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique SA, Switzerland.
  • Contraves Space AG, Switzerland.

National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Japan Japan Stratospheric Corporation Inc., Japan. Further details about all the partners can be found at

HAPCOS - COST 297 HAPCOS was established in 2005 as a collaborative discussion forum funded by the European Science Foundation's COST initiative, following the initial success of CAPANINA. More information at

HAPCOS has three working groups, specialising in 'Radio Communications,' 'Optical Communications' and 'Platforms.' The Secretariat of HAPCOS is based at the University of York. It has technical experts from 17 European countries.

The Department of Electronics at York has a high reputation for teaching and research, with current research funding exceeding €5 million. The key personnel for CAPANINA and HAPCOS are the members of the Communications Research Group and Physical Layer Research Group, which collectively have more than 50 staff and research students. The Groups have participated in a number of EU projects including the HeliNet project, the forerunner of CAPANINA, and FLOWS which dealt with flexible convergence of wireless standards and services, including multi-band antenna array design. More information at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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