KDDI, SpaceX to bring satellite-to-cellular service to Japan

KDDI, SpaceX to bring satellite-to-cellular service to Japan

japan Map Network Vector

Service will be launched in 2024 and allow customers to send and receive SMS messages.

Japanese mobile network operator, KDDI, and SpaceX yesterday announced plans to provide satellite-to-cellular services to Japan.

The partnership will leverage SpaceX's Starlink low earth orbit (LEO) satellites and KDDI’s national wireless spectrum to provide the service, which is scheduled for a 2024 launch.

In doing so, the two companies will bring connectivity to remote, uncovered areas of Japan without the need for a dedicated antenna to access the Starlink internet service.

KDDI said that this will include areas beyond the limits of traditional powerful 5G and 4G networks, such as remote islands and mountainous locations.

SMS will be the first technology supported by the direct to handset service, and will provide cellular connectivity to areas that are unreachable by Japan’s other three mobile network operators.

After the 2024 launch of SMS services, KDDI and SpaceX plan to launch voice and data services, although no timeline was revealed.

All existing smartphones on the KDDI network, as it employs the device’s existing radio services.

KDDI’s network currently providing 99.9% "population coverage" to the people of Japan, but considering the island nations unique geography, only a small portion of the land mass is habitable.

This means that there are large areas of the country where it is possible to use traditional technologies to provide coverage from coast to coast.

In addition to investing in partnerships with satellite companies such as SpaceX, KDDI are also working on deploying more fibre and satellite backhauled base stations.

Starlink launched commercial internet services in Japan in October 2022.

It has continued to invest in the country, and according to local press the Japanese military is planning to adopt the technology next year, adding LEO capabilities to its existing geo stationary orbit satellite access.

Gift this article