Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI Corp. and Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently announced an agreement that would provide satellite-to-cellular service in Japan. The service will use SpaceX’s Starlink satellites and KDDI’s national wireless spectrum.
As per a press release, SpaceX and KDDI will initially offer SMS text services, with voice and data poised to be added later. Satellite-to-cellular SMS text functions are expected to be rolled out as early as 2024. The service will also be compatible with almost all existing smartphones on KDDI’s network.
KDDI has noted that the service will help to connect people in remote areas of Japan who are currently out of reach of traditional cellular networks. As stated by the telecom operator, it is already providing 99.9% “population coverage” to the people of Japan. However, only a small portion of the Japanese land mass is habitable, so it is quite difficult to use traditional technologies to provide coast-to-coast coverage.
With Starlink in the picture, such issues are addressed. And with the service’s addition of voice and data services in the future, full connectivity to all areas in Japan becomes a possibility. In its official page for the service, KDDI highlighted that users would be able to achieve connectivity anywhere the sky is visible.
“If you can see the sky, you can contact your family and friends with your usual smartphone, even at sea. If you can see the sky, you can get information with your usual smartphone, even in an emergency. If you can see the sky, you can connect anywhere,” the telecommunications operator wrote.
SpaceX and KDDI have extended an invitation to other mobile network operators around the world to join the ecosystem of satellite-enabled connectivity. Such solutions, after all, could go a long way towards establishing a system that could effectively connect the world. SpaceX’s Starlink constellation continues to grow as well, so its network and service are only bound to get better with time.
KDDI has released a concept video for its satellite-to-cellular service.
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