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back to article Japanese operator to test quake-proof floating phone-mast BLIMPS

Japan's third-largest network operator will trial blimp-based cells that could be instantly deployed to 100 metres above the ground even if said terra firma is shaking uncontrollably or has disappeared under flood waters. Next month's tests, reported by IDG, involve attaching 3G base stations to a handful of helium-filled …

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Re: YEAH RIGHT

>HAVE YOU EVER TIED A STRING AROUND A CHICKENS NECK AND WHACKED IT INTO A BRICK WALL

NO. I'M NOT A SICKO.

WHY ARE WE SHOUTING?

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Headmaster

Re: YEAH RIGHT

AndrueC, meet BIG DUMB GUY 555. He thinks his shtick is funny. So far, he's wrong.

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Unhappy

@Tom Maddox Re: "He thinks his shtick is funny. So far, he's wrong."

I have a doom-laden feeling that there will be no "so far" about it.

AF

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Anonymous Coward

Re: YEAH RIGHT

Wow, An engineer as well as?

Maybe big dumb guy isn't that dumb after-all.

*Hey BDG maybe you need a new handle. May I suggest Big PHD Bloke?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: YEAH RIGHT

I think he goes under the pseudonym of B1FF on other forums.

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Unhappy

Re: pseudonym

He seems to resemble `Jim The Boss`, found on CW's Shark Tank.

Like JTB, this ID10T only knows how to shout; but at least this one can spell!

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Re: YEAH RIGHT

MY HUSBAND ALWAYS MAKES ME LAUGH. MAYBE IT'S YOUR SHTICK THAT'S NOT FUNNY

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Gimp

Re: YEAH RIGHT

I'd love a threesome with you two, can I be your big dumb bitch?

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Boffin

If the blimps and their power tethers need to be pre-deployed, why not just use telescoping masts on top of buildings or, better yet, provide provisions for microwave backhaul at existing cell sites? This eliminates the cost and complexity of having to dynamically "aim" your backhaul.

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RE: Andrew Burt

I think the point of this is to have a reliable backup in case the existing buildings and cell sites that you speak of are no longer -- um -- existing.

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Re: Scott 1

I think he's quereying the validity of having a tethered balloon on a building which may no longer exist as opposed a simpler and more accurate fixed device on a building which may no longer exist.

I had the same thought as the OP. Based on the initial proposal I was thinking they were planning some sort of small watertight concrete bunker type thing containing big batteries/UPS sort of thing from which a tethered balloon would be automatically inflated/launched in the event of a catastrophe, eg buildings falling over which currently have mobiled/cell masts.

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FAIL

Earthquakes Destroy Roads, Trucks *need* Roads

o Earthquakes destroy roads, but trucks need roads.

o Earthquakes destroy pole-supported wireline infrastructure, but cell towers (and truck/blimp-based celltower replacements) need functioning wireline connectivity.

o With 3KM-diameter cells (this datum from TFA) Softbank is going to need many truck/blimp units to achieve reasonable coverage.

This whole thing sounds like a pork-barrel / PR exercise, or PHB/committee-based ... something.

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Re: Earthquakes Destroy Roads, Trucks *need* Roads

And how are the trucks going to be "wired into the rest of the cellular infrastructure"

Do they think the cell network will be destroyed in one location, and working 5k up the road where the truck is?

I could see a truck (off road capable) with a satellite link, and a blimp antenna that could be used to provide communication for a team(s) of rescue workers.

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Re: Earthquakes Destroy Roads, Trucks *need* Roads

I have a picture in my head of a truck barreling down the road, a couple people in the back, frantically unwinding a huge spool of fiber optic cable... I don't know how well it'll work, but it would get the job done!

...As long as you had a new spool every mile or so.

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Re: Earthquakes Destroy Roads, Trucks *need* Roads

@Tom35: I presume you were being sarcastic, but if you were not,

1. The truck/blimp idea was not my idea, nor was I supporting it.

2. The wireline connectivity requirement holds if the truck/blimp system is intended to reproduce the full bandwidth functionality of standard cellphone towers. Blimp/satellite comms may be possible, but it would be outrageously expensive for the bandwidth required to repro standard cell tower functionality.

@ArmanX and Tom35: if you were being serious about the trucks going into the damaged areas, please have a look at this photo from when the last big tsunami hit Japan:

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/About/General/2011/8/24/1314177653907/Japan-tsunami-victims-pra-007.jpg

I don't think trucks -- off-road-style or not -- will make any sort of rapid progress through that sort of landscape.

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FAIL

Re: Earthquakes Destroy Roads, Trucks *need* Roads

I guess you are another one who isn't aware of Mr. Sikorsky's invention. (Try here: http ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Sikorsky check out the third paragraph)

"Trucks need roads, my ass!"

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Anonymous Coward

Can do already.

Self-contained solar-powered transceivers deployed at regular intervals to make a mesh. Standard practice in Middle East and parts of Africa. Low voltage DC throughout. Can easily cover 24hr operation by storing energy from daylight hours. Mount telescopic masts to flat-bed trailers, tow to suitable location, park, repeat.

Better still, use a decent utility-truck (Japanese equivalent of Unimog etc) for the in-run to drop off emergency mobile phone comms and the journey back to evacuate people out of harm's way.

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I can't help feeling

that this is the aerial equivalent of "lets build a monorail".

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Anonymous Coward

That truck is problematic.

The microwave links mostly would need station-keeping re-pointing because the blimbs move, not so much because they're that finnicky -- a smaller dish gets less range but is less directional also. 5km with excellent line of sight because up in the air shouldn't be a real problem.

What had me wonder is that if you have blimps, you have a lot of otherwise unused area, so why not put those fancy flexible solar panels on top? Seems a no-brainer to me. You'd still want to be able to feed them from below, of course. How much power does such a base station need?

As pointed out, trucks don't fare well in disaster-struck areas, so a mesh between blimps would be a better idea, as local comms would be of immediate help between rescue people on the ground. Add a satellite uplink somewhere and you have limited outside connectivity, but that's not even the most important thing to provide.

I'd guess that sms/mms-only outside access would be enough for letting the family know you're still alive, allowing more people to make do with the available bandwidth. You could perhaps put a small replacement mobile switch on the meshed blimps that'd allow just anyone to connect and wire up instant (ptt?) access under a few well-known codes or something, instantly turning suitable mobile handsets into walkie-talkies, which you'd probably need more at that point.

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Re: That truck is problematic.

This is a very good description of what I was thinking of. The truck is definitely the weak point* of this concept, and probably redundant in any scenario. If ever there was a a situation in which a mesh would be a great advantage, this seems to be it. Ditto with the solar panels - make the base-stations at least partially independent of the infrastructure that will be damaged to some degree.

* Aiming blimp-mounted (i.e. moving) antennae at truck-mounted (i.e fixed) antennae seems to be an example of a job that does not need to be done, and far too complex for the end result.

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Re: That truck is problematic.

Definitely. You want pre-installed autonomous solar-powered emergency cells. Smart enough to configure themselves, both into non-interfering cells for the mobiles and for mesh communication with surviving neighbours.

And how to turn them on? I'd suggest smart enough to listen to the "proper" fixed cellphone infrastructure, and turn themselves on if that dies. Smart enough to link into it at the edges of the disaster area would be a plus. But I'm wondering, why normally off? In rural areas they might as well be [part of?] the normal network in everyday operation. Possibly even in cities, unless they have to be fundamentally incompatible with operation in a high cell-density network.

Anything that can't be done with existing hardware? I don't think so. It's a software problem!

For our next trick, we work out how to deliver a replacement cellphone network to a disaster area by bomber. (Planes which are usually sitting around doing nothing when a natural disaster strikes, long range, may as well use them for good as well as evil). Thinks: anchor, tether, electronics package, combination drogue / blimp support that inflates on the way down. A helium cylinder could double as an anchor, the tether could be a tube. Same form factor as the usual military payload?

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Trollface

How long before

we have Apple iDrones?

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Re: How long before

Actually... I can't be bothered to find the link, but this was discussed, if not implemented - circling drones, providing mesh connectivity back to a stable point (or a sat link) until regular antennas can be placed. Since drones can remain aloft for quite some time, it's not a bad idea. As long as you can handle the initial investment, that is...

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