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Look, Up in the Sky . . .

It's weather balloons to GPS' rescue!

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This story appears in the January 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

While urban dwellers often experience iffy wireless reception,anyone working in America's sparsely populated middle is luckyto find a signal at all. Chandler, Arizona, start-up Space Data hasa low-cost solution that could bring the whole spectrum of wirelessservices to the wide, open spaces where cash-strapped carriershaven't been anxious to tread.

It turns out that wireless signals-from pagers, SMS, voice-thatmax out at 15 miles in any direction from an earth-bound tower willtravel 10 times as far when beamed from a transmitter bouncingalong the stratosphere. There are more than enough National WeatherService balloons launched daily to provide coverage from sea toshining sea, so Space Data CEO Jerry Knoblach is asking the agencyfor a lift in return for badly needed GPS capability.

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