Near-space communication provider Space Data last week announced successful trials of its balloon-powered CDMA SkySite in Utah using CDMA 1X-RTT, the current standard for CDMA voice calls.

During the two trial flights, a miniaturized 1X-RTT base station was carried to altitudes as high as 60,000 feet in western Utah. Operating in the 1.9 GHz band, calls were made to and from the base station to ordinary CDMA handsets about 60 miles away with “excellent” call quality, according to the company.

Space Data’s SkySite platform has been used to deliver calls from base stations leveraging other wireless technologies, so the results were not surprising, although these trials marked the first time SkySite had used 1X-RTT, Space Data CEO Jerry Knoblach said.

“It’s always nice to do it in the real world and show that it really holds together,” he said.

Knoblach said the Space Data solution is ideal for filling coverage gaps in rural areas or providing supplemental coverage in areas where terrestrial networks are unavailable, such as during the aftermath of a natural disaster. SkySite also could be attractive to first-responder agencies, particularly as Space Data progresses to EV-DO and LTE technologies, he said.

“That might have application for the public-safety community, because in [Washington, D.C.] they have a CDMA network at 700 MHz,” Knoblach said. “This could be an option for the 700 MHz D Block, because it would be a way to get coverage quickly, because most of our costs are operational, not cap ex.”