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NTT DOCOMO and Space Compass Invest USD$100 million in AALTO

Zephyr aircraft. Credit: Airbus

Ibadan, 4 June 2024. – A consortium of Japanese businesses led by NTT DOCOMO, Inc. and Space Compass Corporation, together with Mizuho Bank Limited and the Development Bank of Japan Inc., has committed to invest USD$100m in AALTO HAPS Limited (“AALTO”), which manufactures and operates the stratospheric, solar-powered Zephyr High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS). The investment will happen through the Japanese Consortium’s investment vehicle, HAPS JAPAN Corporation.

This investment marks the beginning of a strategic alliance to commercialize connectivity and earth observation services using HAPS in Japan and across Asia. It will also support the industrial and commercial roadmap for AALTO’s services, targeting a launch in Japan and a global entry-into-service in 2026.

Flying for months in the stratosphere, Zephyr offers capabilities which are transformative for mobile connectivity and earth observation. As a payload-agnostic platform, Zephyr can transform into a multi-functional tower in the sky to provide low-latency 5G direct-to-device mobile connectivity services. Leveraging Airbus’s EO service, Strat-Observer, Zephyr can also fulfil different monitoring, tracking, sensing and detection applications. AALTO is therefore suitable for various use cases, such as expanding mobile network operator (MNO) coverage.

Takaaki Sato, Chief Technology Officer of NTT DOCOMO, said: “NTT DOCOMO continues to improve network quality and is focusing 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.” The CTO also added. “This technology brings together unique cutting-edge engineering with economics that aligns to expand coverage to rural and remote areas, and support our collective response to natural disasters.”

Koichiro Matsufuji, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Space Compass Corporation, added: “As the leading HAPS technology of its kind, Zephyr is a unique capability we will leverage over the coming years.”

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