Telefonica’s Movistar Argentina successfully tested 4G coverage from a hot air balloon in the first experiment of its kind in the country.

The company said the system was able to stay in the air for five days at a height of 40 metres and had been developed for use as a contingency for special situations. The system is designed so it can be set up quickly and simply by three people.

In a statement, Movistar said tests held at the Balcare Earth Station in Buenos Aires were successful and the system rendered a “normal service”. It added the technology was similar to terrestrial base stations and offered the same level of capacity.

The balloon is attached to the ground with a cable to allow the company to move it or, if needed, recover it.

Balloon testing
Movistar’s experiments are not the only balloon coverage systems currently in development. Google’s parent company Alphabet recently talked-up its Loon project, a balloon-based system it is testing in a range of locations.

Alphabet believes balloon technology will enhance coverage in rural and remote areas. In January, it axed development of a drone-based connectivity system to focus on Loon.

In February, UK operator EE announced it had a patent pending on a balloon system it developed with the aim of using the system to provide 4G in areas where coverage is poor or existing infrastructure has been damaged.