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Solar Power Aircraft Will Make Broadband Available To All

An international project is developing new technology that can be installed into high altitude platforms - such as solar powered aircraft or airships - to make Broadband Internet access available to remote areas and moving trains.

With the help of 3.1 million euros from the EU's Framework Programme, the CAPANINA project brings together 13 partners from across Europe and Japan and is named after the restaurant in Italy where initial discussions were held. It will develop the equipment to operate from aircraft or airships operating as High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) that are permanently located in the sky. Placing these HAPs at an altitude of 20 kilometers - well above the flight path of normal aeroplanes but below satellites - will provide a cheaper and more efficient solution than those currently available, as they do not require underground cabling or masts. "The HAPs technology is an interesting potential solution for delivering Broadband Internet to rural, suburban and other hard-to-reach areas," says Peter Walters, FP6UK National Contact Point for IST. "Demand for fast communication is increasing all over the world, and this technology offers an innovative way of delivering broadband inexpensively to people at home, in the office, and on the move." "The opportunities offered by HAPs are exciting as they could deliver broadband connections which are 2,000 times faster than a traditional modem and 200 times faster than todays wired ADSL broadband. HAPs are also easier to maintain than satellites as they can be periodically brought back to earth for upgrades and maintenance." The project partners hope to achieve the first objective of CAPANINA - to deliver broadband connections to rural areas across Europe - within the next four years.,Then they will look at delivering Broadband to moving trains using smart antenna systems, that link with access points on the train. This will give passengers high-speed Internet connections from Wi-Fi enabled lap-tops. "This project shows how, with the support of Framework Funding, European Research and Development can be at the forefront of technology innovation," says Paul Leeks, Project Director for FP6UK. "The development of these high altitude platforms offers an exciting and innovative solution to the likely communications problems of the future. They have more capacity, provide quicker and cheaper connections and have little impact on the environment." The current Framework Programme (FP6) runs until 2006 and organisations wanting free information on how to access some of the 19bn available should log on to http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk or call central telephone support on 0870 600 6080. Further information on the CAPANINA project is available at http://www.capanina.orgThe EU's Framework Programmes are the world's largest, publicly funded, research and technological development programmes. The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) covers the period 2002-2006 and is the European Union's main instrument for the funding of collaborative research and innovation. It is open to public and private entities of all sizes in the EU and a number of non-EU countries. It has an overall budget of 19 billion. Most of the budget for FP6 is devoted to work in seven priority thematic areas:,? Life sciences, Genetics and Biotechnology for Health;,? Information Society Technologies;,? Nanotechnologies and Nanosciences, Knowledgebased Multifunctional Materials and New Production Processes and Devices;,? Aeronautics and Space;,? Food Quality and Safety;,? Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems; and,? Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society. There is also a focus on the research activities of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across all seven thematic areas. The services of FP6UK are provided by the Office of Science & Technology (OST) / Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). More information can be found on http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk IST Programme ,The IST Priority Thematic Area (PTA) of the 6th Framework Programme (FP6) is the largest of the seven PTA's - with a budget of 3.822bn over the lifetime of FP6. Over 400 projects will arise from the first and second calls, with call budgets of 1070m and 525m respectively. The 3rd Call for proposals was one of three separate calls in the IST domain that have a closing date of 15 October - including a Joint Call with the Nanotechnologies, Materials and Production technologies area. Further calls for 1bn and 800m are expected late 2004 and mid 2005.

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