SoftBank’s Joint Research Project with Rwanda Achieves 5G HAPS Milestone


On September 24, the Government of Rwanda and SoftBank Corp. successfully conducted a test to advance High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) research. SoftBank disclosed the milestone: the “first-ever publicly announced” delivery of 5G connectivity from a HAPS uncrewed aircraft in the stratosphere.

During the test, SoftBank said its proprietary 5G communications payload performed “seamlessly” at a maximum altitude of 10.5 miles under challenging atmospheric conditions. The trial included a 5G-based Zoom video call between a 5G smartphone in Rwanda and SoftBank team members located in Japan. 

Both parties entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in 2020, committing to a Joint Research Project (JRP), exploring the potential of HAPS for providing mobile internet connectivity. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation of the Republic of Rwanda, called the successful 5G delivery test “promising” and noted its potential to narrow the digital divide and enhance digital inclusion. 

Based on the success of the recent test, SoftBank and the Government of Rwanda plan to continue their JRP, which may include the digitalization of schools and communities in remote areas lacking internet connectivity.  

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