It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...a floating stratospheric Internet platform!
The Federal Communications Commission yesterday accepted Virginia-based Sky Station International's application to build a network of such platforms 100,000 feet above the Earth to send wireless Internet signals.
The application is the first step in the FCC's process of formal consideration of the new technology, which consists of stationary platforms permanently positioned above major metropolitan areas and kept afloat with hydrogen and a device called an ion engine, the company said. The platforms would be much closer to Earth than satellites and could transmit information much more quickly.
Leading Sky Station's charge into the stratosphere is president and COO Alexander Haig, former secretary of state. If approved, Sky Station's network could end up competing with Teledesic, a joint venture of McCaw Cellular Communications founder Craig McCaw and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. The company, now headed by McCaw, is working to establish a network of low Earth-orbiting satellites by the year 2001 for the broadband transmission of data.