The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing new rules to facilitate satellite-to-phone service, which is currently in its infancy. The goal of the new regulations is to make it easier for phone carriers and satellite operators to provide coverage in remote and underserved areas. The FCC is proposing that satellite companies partner with cellular providers to gain permission to operate on the licensed wireless spectrum that is normally reserved for ground-based service.
To be eligible for this service, operators would have to meet certain requirements. They would need to use non-geostationary orbit satellites and secure leases from terrestrial spectrum owners in the area they wish to operate. This would enable them to provide outdoor service even in areas where cell phones are currently non-functional.
The proposal by the FCC seeks to bridge the digital divide by ensuring that even remote and underserved areas have access to high-quality mobile coverage. The regulator’s decision is based on the belief that access to affordable and reliable mobile connectivity is critical to the success of individuals and communities, particularly in the current age of remote work and virtual communication.
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By opening up licensed wireless spectrum to satellite operators and cellular providers, the FCC is providing a solution to the problem of spotty mobile coverage in remote and underserved areas. Satellite-to-phone service has the potential to transform the way people communicate, especially in areas where mobile coverage is currently non-existent. The FCC’s proposal would create new opportunities for satellite companies and cellular providers to work together to deliver better mobile coverage to more people, regardless of their location.
In conclusion, the FCC’s proposed rules could bring about significant changes in the way people communicate, particularly in remote and underserved areas. It offers a unique opportunity for satellite companies and cellular providers to collaborate and provide reliable mobile coverage to previously unserved areas.
The initiative has the potential to contribute significantly to bridging the digital divide, thereby improving the lives of many people.
At present, there are only a few devices that support satellite connections. One such device is the iPhone 14 family by Apple, which can use satellites to send emergency messages. On the other hand, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite enables texting off the grid, but it is currently only available for Android phones that use Snapdragon systems-on-chip and the X70 modem.
The Snapdragon Satellite is expected to arrive on the market in the second half of 2023. Carrier partnerships are also expected to start soon, particularly with T-Mobile and SpaceX’s Starlink-based collaboration. Testing for this new technology is set to begin later this year, and it should be able to work with both standard texting and some messaging apps.
The technology that allows satellite connectivity usually relies on a line of sight to a satellite. Additionally, the limited bandwidth of existing solutions makes them impractical for significant data transfers. Nevertheless, satellite connectivity can be useful for reaching first responders during a hike or confirming your arrival at a campsite in the wilderness. Currently, the hope is to use satellites for general data as well.
Despite the limited availability of satellite connectivity, its potential benefits are significant. For example, it can provide communication channels for emergencies where traditional networks are unavailable or unreliable. It also has the potential to connect remote areas that are currently out of reach of traditional networks. In the long term, the use of satellites could improve access to information and services in areas with limited network infrastructure.
However, there are some challenges to overcome, such as the high cost of satellite technology, the need for specialized devices, and the limited bandwidth of existing solutions. Nevertheless, the potential benefits of satellite connectivity are driving research and development in this area. In the future, we may see satellite connectivity become more widespread and accessible, opening up new possibilities for communication, information access, and collaboration.