Globalstar and Manx Telecom to develop integrated cellular/mobile satellite service
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

lobalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd and Manx Telecom have today (18 April) have announced that they will work together to develop an Extended Mobile Network (EMN) system. The two companies are aiming to bring EMN to market as the first communications service that can switch between multiple cellular networks and a direct-to-user (DtU) mobile satellite network, which will deliver satellite connectivity to off-the-shelf user devices using satellite hotspots and Wi-Fi connections.

The system will use Manx Telecom’s Smart SIM technology, which allows automatic handover between cellular networks when a device loses coverage from one carrier’s network. With EMN, if a terrestrial network is not available, connectivity will be provided by Globalstar’s system.

EMN also use Globalstar’s Low-Earth Orbit (1,410 km) satellite constellation, which provides lower latency communications than satellite constellation in higher orbits.

First Responder Auxiliary Network (FRAN) will be one of the first services to benefit from EMN. It will enable first responders to continue making and receiving calls when cellular networks become available. FRAN will be supported by Intelcomm, a specialist technical consultancy.

EMN will use similar technology to Globalstar's Sat-Fi product - a high-power satellite hotspot that enables up to eight users to simultaneously make calls or get online using their off-the-shelf Wi-Fi enabled devices even if they are beyond the reach of cellular networks. This means that unlike a system where satellites are used to provide backhaul connectivity to terrestrial masts, there is no need for permanent fixed terrestrial infrastructure. This eliminates a point of vulnerability as base stations can be damaged by extreme weather and this occurred in the UK last year.

This summer, Manx Telecom and Globalstar are looking to trial FRAN with participation from the emergency services community.

“First responders face an ever growing array of operational challenges,” said Jay Monroe, chairman & CEO of Globalstar. “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.”

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

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc, a provider of mobile satellite voice and data services.

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