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Using balloons to boost cellphone coverage in North Dakota

This story about North Dakota planning to test balloons as a method of extending cellphone service caught my eye because of the book I’m working on about Saskatchewan engineering projects of note. In the late 1970s a SaskTel engineer proposed that it should be possible to use a string of hot-air balloons, rather like tethered communications satellites, to increase long-distance capacity. The idea was (if you’ll pardon the expression) shot down.

Perhaps it was just ahead of its time. After all, a lot of people were leery of this newfangled thing called fibre optics when it was first proposed. Fortunately, SaskTel went ahead with that, and in the 1980s had the world’s largest fibre-optic network. The company is still a world leader in the field of fibre-optic technology.

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