Globalstar plans satellite-to-mobile service with Manx Telecom

18 April 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Satellite operator Globalstar is planning to develop a technology that will allow users of ordinary smartphones to roam automatically on to satellite services.

The company is working with mobile operator Manx Telecom – based in the Isle of Man between Britain and Ireland – to develop the direct-to-user satellite network.

Manx Telecom already offers a service that allows customers to switch automatically to a stronger signal if the preferred network is unavailable. This extended mobile network (EMN) service will be expanded to use Globalstar’s satellite service if no cellular network is available.

Jay Monroe, chairman and CEO of Globalstar, said: “The EMN solution, incorporating our reliable satellite network, will help ensure that first responders can continuously communicate and help them perform their significant roles more effectively.”

The service will initially be used for a UK-based first responder auxiliary network (FRAN) enabling communications continuity for emergency services.

Gary Lamb, CEO of Manx Telecom, said: “Our firm view is that FRAN can uniquely provide emergency services personnel with communications networks they can rely on, wherever they are, 24/7.”

Manx Telecom and Globalstar are targeting a trial service of FRAN involving parties from emergency services. Users will be able to communicate as normal with their existing devices, such as smartphones or tablets, said the companies.

“Together with our partners, we intend to show that satellite communications, combined with Manx Telecom’s flexible strongest signal SIM technology, can provide much-needed balance and backup to the emergency communications architecture and dramatically increase overall reliability,” said Lamb.

EMN will use Globalstar’s satellites only 1,400 km above the Earth, providing lower latency than other satellite networks in higher orbits.

Manx Telecom, once owned by BT and later by Telefónica, has annual sales of around £80 million and an operating profit of over £18 million. It is listed on the UK’s AIM market. It provides fixed and local services, mainly in the self-governing Isle of Man.