Mobile Satellite Services
Mobile Satellite Services like Iridium and GlobalStar have a long established reputation of being able to successfully deliver connectivity to the most remote regions of the planet. Unlike traditional mobile phone providers that utilize cell towers for signal strength, satellite phone providers connect to low earth orbiting satellites. These orbiting satellites enable satellite phone service to connect in seconds with a clear signal. So, if you are hiking, cruising or otherwise travelling in a remote area, and need to stay in touch, the satellite phone works best. Only about 14% of the whole world is out of cover.
Terrestrial mobile networks
Using cell towers, terrestrial mobile networks provide very good coverage in focused locations, however we all despise the “out of coverage area” message we keep getting every now and then.
There has been no good solution for people who were working on the fringes of cellular networks, crossing in and out of coverage areas. Or, those who want to be able to use thier phones when sailing, on hiking trips or vacationing in remote locations.
Integrated satellite-terrestrial Mobile Service
Enter TerreStar. They have come up with an integrated satellite-terrestrial mobile satellite service to be lauched in June this year. This service will enable users across North America to be connected to TerreStar’s network through a “virtual handshake” between the next-generation mobile satellite and UMTS (3G, upgradeable to LTE) terrestrial network. It’s the only fully IP-based satellite phone using high-speed packet data.
Terrestar has come up with a cute and compact device. It sports an internal antenna, touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard and runs Windows Mobile 6.5. It has satellite, quad-band GSM, tri-band WCDMA/HSPA connectivity along with Bluetooth and WiFi. The device will retail at about $800 USD. It’s the first satellite-terrestrial smartphone with planned service offerings, including: SMS, MMS, IM, Email, Push to Talk, Video services and Location Based Services (LBS).
How they do it
TerreStar will be using a geostationary satellite employing ground-based beam forming technology, a critical element in the system to deliver speed and performance to handheld devices with small, even internal, antennas. In the case of Iridium, a constellation of LEO (low earth orbiting) satellites are used to provide global, but much lower speed and signal strength, coverage.
L-band Mobile-Satellite Service (like that of Iridium and GlobalStar) uses 1525–1559 MHz (Space-to-Earth) and 1626.5–1660.5 MHz (Earth-to-space) while the 2 GHz Mobile-Satellite Service (used by some geosynchrous satellites) uses 2000–2020 MHz: (Earth-to-space) and 2180–2200 (Space-to-Earth).
The techniques developed and patented by Mobile Satellite Ventures (a sister operation of TerreStar) allow the same (MSS) frequency band to be used for both satellite and terrestrial communications seamlessly, yielding simplified single-band/single-mode transparent user devices
I think it’s a great step forward which will have a profound impact in our lives.
Some of-the-top use cases
- Extention of cellular networks to rural, remote and maritime environments
- Provide mobile users at land, at sea and in the air with ubiquotous multimedia services (Internet, phone, entertainment)
- Always-on mode of communication in Crisis/Disaster areas