Airtel to offer mobile services via satellites in Africa

Bharti airtel today said it has joined hands with Japan’s Softbank Mobile to offer mobile services using satellite communications in its African markets.

They have completed the field trials recently.

“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,” a company statement said.

Bharti Airtel Africa will offer mobile services using the satellite technology in those areas where providing traditional mobile services is difficult or not viable.

“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.

“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.

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. ”

Bharti airtel, however, has not mentioned whether similar services will be offered in India.

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