Bharti Airtel on Thursday said it has successfully conducted field trial of a technology that provides cost-efficient 3G phone services using a communications satellite as a transmission line.

Along with SoftBank Mobile, it conducted the field trial in Kenya.

“This technology is critically important to the development of mobile phone networks in rural areas in Africa and other areas where commercialisation of such operations is challenging,” Bharti Airtel Africa Chief Technical Officer Bayan Monadjem said in a statement.

The company said for areas where it was difficult to build facilities for fixed-line telecommunications and mobile communications, the development of communications networks using satellite transmission lines has been considered but expensive usage fees have been the primary barrier.

However, with this trial, Bharti Airtel and SoftBank Mobile validated technologies and methods for providing communication services using a communications satellite in rural areas at a low cost.

The technology has already been developed and commercialised by SoftBank Mobile.

It was used when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in March 2011 to rebuild mobile phone networks in out-of-range areas by operating over 300 satellite base stations.

Using the technology, cell sizes can be expanded, which enables service coverage expansion for each base station.

“The technology validated through the field trial also achieves both high speeds and low costs...This will enable 3G mobile phone service in remote locations where transmission lines cannot usually reach while achieving drastic reductions in transmission line costs,” it said.

“I hope this technology will make communication even more free and convenient for people around the world,” SoftBank Mobile Executive Vice President, Director and CTO Junichi Miyakawa said.

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