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Satellites and mobile phones: Planning a marriage: Dramatic improvements in rural communications may be in the offing as direct service by satellite to mobile phones moves closer to reality

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1 Author(s)
Alex Hills ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Alaska Univ., Fairbanks, AK, USA

It is pointed out that cellular radio is not well suited for rural areas, where potential users are sparsely distributed. Mobile satellite service is seen as the ideal way to pick up where cellular leaves off, particularly if mobile units are developed that will work with either system. The new system could also provide nationwide two-way voice dispatch services. Interest in the new system is high in rural areas because the divestiture of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and the deregulation of the telephone industry are making local telephone service more expensive for rural subscribers. Of particular concern is the high cost of the rural local loop, the cable pair that connects the subscriber to an exchange. Mobile telephone service could replace the expensive local loop by connecting the rural telephone user directly to a large exchange, perhaps far away. A general description of a mobile satellite service is provided. Attention is also given to the regulatory change being considered by the US Federal Communication Commission.

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 8 )