It's no "Stratellite", but Ed Schafer, former Governor of North Dakota, is betting on some hot air balloons to provide cellphone service to the vast wasteland expanse of his state, instead of the 1,100 cell towers it would take otherwise. The system only takes three balloons, 20 miles up, to provide coverage for the entire area, but since the balloons drift, it takes around 9 balloons total to keep service aloft at all times. Once a balloon floats out of state, it will eject its parachute-equipped communications pod, to be recovered for a bounty (similar to the SkySite program we just brought you) and sent back into service over the state. Extend America is about to start testing the tech, and if successful they plan to license their bandwidth to existing wireless carriers.

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Extend America prepping balloon-based cell service for North Dakota