The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Loon’s Balloons Will Fly Over Kenya in First Commercial Telecom Tryout

Floating equipment in the stratosphere prevents the need for extensive infrastructure on the ground

5 min read
Photo-Illustration: Edmon de Haro
Photo-Illustration: Edmon de Haro

Kenya runs on mobile phones. There are almost 43 million in use by Kenya’s nearly 50 million citizens, meaning the East African country has the 33rd highest mobile phone usage in the world. By comparison, it has fewer than 70,000 fixed landlines.

And yet, outside of major cities like Nairobi, the infrastructure for mobile telephony is lacking. That’s why, in 2019, telecommunications provider Telkom Kenya will begin turning to high-altitude balloons built by the Alphabet subsidiary Loon to provide mobile phone service.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions
Colorful chip with wires coming out of it surrounded by large metal plates.

Engineers probe the performance of noisy bits that, when working together, may solve some problems better than quantum computers.

Lang Zeng/Beihang University

A large universal quantum computer is still an engineering dream, but machines designed to leverage quantum effects to solve specific classes of problems—such as D-wave’s computers—are alive and well. But an unlikely rival could challenge these specialized machines: computers built from purposely noisy parts.

This week at the IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022), engineers unveiled several advances that bring a large-scale probabilistic computer closer to reality than ever before.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

AI for Wireless

The key to overcoming complexity in modern wireless systems design

4 min read
Diagram showing machine learning workflows
MathWorks

This is a sponsored article brought to you by MathWorks.

The evolution of mobile wireless technology, from 3G/4G to 5G, and introduction of Industry 4.0, have resulted in the ever-increasing complexity of wireless systems design. Wireless networks have also become more difficult to manage due to requirements necessitating optimal sharing of valuable resources to expanding sets of users. These challenges force engineers to think beyond traditional rules-based approaches with many are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as the go-to solution to face the challenges introduced by modern systems.

From managing communications between autonomous vehicles, to optimization of resource allocations in mobile calls, AI has brought the sophistication necessary for modern wireless applications. As the number and scope of devices connected to networks expands, so too will the role of AI in wireless. Engineers must be prepared to introduce it into increasingly complex systems. Knowing the benefits and current applications of AI in wireless systems, as well as the best practices necessary for optimal implementation, will be key for the future success of the technology.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}