For going on five years now a company named Sanswire Networks has been issuing press releases every six months or so, promising the world broadband via "Stratellites"; giant airships positioned 64,000 feet up, able to provide broadband and wireless service to a land mass roughly the size of Texas. Despite the fact they've never actually built or launched one, they've boldly proclaimed that a Stratellite should cost roughly $30 million to launch, compared to a satellite's $250 million launch price-tag. After years of empty promises and talk of South American launches that never actually happened, the first prototype was unveiled last April, with ongoing testing the past several months. These latest tests leave plenty to be desired. They're conducted in tame 3 mph California winds, last just hours, and the airships used are a fifth the size of what was supposed to be delivered. They also fail to mention exactly how high the airship was -- so we'll assume not very. That's a far cry from an airship that can intelligently sit at 12 miles up for 18 months at a time, offering low latency broadband to the happy campers below. The company says the tests were conducted in "ideal conditions", but a sunny, windless day doesn't seem like the ideal testbed for a company really looking to prove the viability of this sort of product. The company's latest press release also says the tethered test "demonstrates the effectiveness of delivering communications via the processes the Company had all along envisioned." Demonstrating that VoIP works from a toy balloon floating in the California sun is light-years away from proving that "blimpband' is an idea fit for serious commercial deployment.
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