Bharti Aritel Limited and SoftBank Mobile Corp have been doing field trials on low-cost 3G Internet using satellite as a transmission line in Kenya. The trial was commissioned due to the understanding that fixed-line telecommunications and mobile transmission towers are difficult to build in some areas so alternative means for providing high speed Internet at low cost should be sought.
The challenge with satellite as a transmission line has been the prohibitive cost associated with it. With the trial, Bharti Airtel and SoftBank Mobile have validated technologies and methods for providing communications services using a communications satellite in rural areas at a low cost. SoftBank Mobile has already commercialized similar satellite spectrum which was utilized in the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in March 2011. SoftBank was able to rebuild phone networks by operating 300 satellite base stations.
The validated technology implies that 3G mobile phone service will be available in remote locations where standard transmission lines cannot usually reach. Recognizing the success of the 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.”