Bharti airtel, world's fourth largest telecom operator on subscriber base, today said it has joined hands with Japan's Softbank Mobile to offer mobile services using satellite communications in its African markets.
The two companies 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.
"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."
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," the statement added.
Though Airtel has not mentioned anything whether similar service will be launched in India, a Bharti spokesperson said there is a possibility.
"Depending on the success of the servcies in Africa, airtel might consider bringing the services to India as both the countries have similar geography," he said.
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.