Telus Tests Satellite Connectivity for Smartphones, Eyes 2024 Launch

terrestar telus

Telus, in collaboration with Canadian-based TerreStar Solutions operating under the Strigo brand, has successfully conducted a trial using satellite connectivity to facilitate voice calls and text messages between smartphones.

The trial also included connecting to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. “This groundbreaking trial demonstrates the power of satellite technology and advances Telus’ mission to bring vital connectivity to every area of Canada,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of Telus.

The trial aims to eliminate mobile no-coverage zones, enhancing safety and connectivity for all Canadians. The technology has the potential to fill existing gaps in mobile networks and could transform universal mobile-to-satellite and IoT-to-satellite connectivity.

It could ensure that customers in remote areas, such as hikers or campers, have mobile access regardless of their location. Additionally, it could provide backup connectivity for emergency services, even when natural disasters impact networks and damage cell towers.

Industries requiring remote field work, like forestry, energy, and scientific research, could also benefit from improved employee safety and reduced operational costs. The technology could enable uninterrupted fleet vehicle tracking and supply management for businesses in remote areas.

It could also deliver real-time data, such as temperature and water information, to farmers to improve decision-making and sustainability in remote agriculture.

“As chipset manufacturers look to equip the next generation of smartphones with 5G satellite capabilities, Telus is exploring these solutions with hopes of introducing these devices to customers in 2024,” Entwistle added.

Strigo’s mobile satellite service on its own requires standalone hardware that costs $650 and includes 1GB of data, along with a $25 SIM card. SpaceX’s Starlink is offering its hardware for $499 per month right now on sale, with service costing $170 per month, including the Roam option which lets you use it anywhere in the world.

The trial combined TerreStar’s spectrum and service platform, which covers most of Canada’s geography, with Telus’ expertise in building world-leading networks. The trial was supported by non-terrestrial-network (NTN) service provider Skylo’s technology platform and was successful in making direct connections using TerreStar’s existing geostationary satellite.

Last month, SpaceX detailed its Starlink cell service with Rogers as its Canadian partner, and now we’re seeing Telus announce its own satellite connectivity solution that might debut. The newest iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 series users already have access to Emergency SOS via Satellite, which lets owners outside of cell coverage send messages for help.

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