The Japanese telecom provider KDDI announced today that it has signed an agreement with SpaceX to introduce satellite-to-cellular service in Japan. Leveraging SpaceX's Starlink low earth orbit (LEO) satellites and KDDI's extensive national wireless spectrum, this partnership aims to enhance cellular connectivity in areas, including remote islands and mountains that have been traditionally hard to reach using conventional 4G and 5G networks.
Shared Vision to Extend Connectivity
As per the statement, the joint initiative builds on the common vision of "connecting the unconnected," to empower users in remote regions with seamless cellular connectivity. KDDI and SpaceX plan to roll out SMS text services as early as 2024, with plans to extend to voice and data services subsequently.
"Almost all existing smartphones on the KDDI network will be compatible with this new service as it employs the device's existing radio services," said the statement.
Both the partners, KDDI and SpaceX also extend an invitation to mobile network operators globally to join the ecosystem of Mobile Network Operators (MNO), bringing the next-generation satellite-enabled connectivity to their customers.
KDDI's au Network
KDDI's au network is said to provide 99.9 percent "population coverage" to the people of Japan. Further to its efforts, KDDI says it will provide "connecting the unconnected" experience, by enabling smartphones to connect to satellites.
SpaceX's Starlink delivers high-speed, low-latency internet to users all over the world. As the world's first and largest satellite constellation using a low Earth orbit, Starlink says it will deliver broadband internet capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls and more.