Bharti Airtel and SoftBank Mobile Succeed in Field Trial for Developing Low-cost Mobile Service Coverage Using Satellite Communications

Bharti Airtel Limited and SoftBank Mobile Corp. have successfully developed a practical technology to provide cost-efficient 3G mobile phone services using a communications satellite as a transmission line following  a field trial conducted in actual environments in the Republic of Kenya.

For areas where it is difficult to build facilities for fixed-line telecommunications and mobile communications, the development of communications networks using satellite transmission lines has been considered but expensive usage fees have been the primary barrier.

With this trial, Bharti Airtel and SoftBank Mobile validated technologies and methods for providing communications services using a communications satellite in rural areas at a low cost.

The technology to provide communications services using the spectrum of a communicatons satellite has already been developed and commercialized by SoftBank Mobile, and it was utilized when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in March 2011 to rebuild mobile phone networks in out-of-range areas by operating over 300 satellite base stations.

This technology was combined with a technology to expand cell sizes, which enables service coverage expansion for each base station.

The technology validated through the field trial also achieves both high speeds and low costs—two service aspects that are usually in conflict—through the dynamic allocation of satellite spectrum to each base station depending on its respective traffic volume.

This will enable 3G mobile phone service in remote locations where transmission lines cannot usually reach while achieving drastic reductions in transmission line costs.

Recognizing the success in this field trial,Bayan Monadjem, Chief Technical Officer of Bharti Airtel Africa, stated, “This technology is critically important to the development of mobile phone networks in rural areas in Africa and other areas where commercialization of such operations is challenging. I would like to extend my appreciation to those companies who supported us in this trial, and SoftBank, who provided us with this technology.”

“There are still hundreds of millions of people who live outside mobile network coverage today,” said Junichi Miyakawa, Executive Vice President, Director & CTO of SoftBank Mobile.  “Harnessing SoftBank’s technology in rural areas in the world literally matches our corporate philosophy,  “Information Revolution – Happiness for everyone”.  I hope this technology will make communication even more free and convenient for people around the world.”

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