Seismologists are predicting another 9.0 earthquake in Japan within the next four years. And to protect its invaluable telecommunications network the next time around, Japanese carrier Softbank will deploy this emergency balloon network.
Softbank provides for both internet and cellular services over its network and had built its previous cell towers out of towers. When the tsunami struck last year, it damaged the structures and erased the reception they provided. Survivors had difficulties attempting to contact authorities.
So the solution: Softbank collaborated with reseachers of Hokkaido University to create an emergency radio relay network that hangs beneath large tethered balloons. Lockheed Martin also set up a similar network in Afghanistan recently that relayed signals nearly 20 miles per station.