Telus conducts first successful phone-to-satellite communication test; calls, texts in no-coverage zones soon possible

Telus has announced that it has successfully used satellite connectivity to conduct voice calls, send text messages between smartphones and connect to IoT devices, in a groundbreaking trial.

The successful demo, the company says, paves the way to eliminating no-coverage zones and providing ubiquitous connectivity.

Telus partnered with non-terrestrial-network (NTN) service provider Skylo and wholesale satellite services provider TerreStar to conduct the trial.

Specifically, the trial combined Skylo’s technology platform to send texts and connect to IoT devices, and TerreStar’s spectrum and service platform, which covers most of Canada’s geography, to make direct connections to its existing geostationary satellite, enabling voice calls.

“This collaboration with TerreStar and Skylo lays the foundation for a world where everyone has access to potentially life-saving connectivity, and businesses and institutions can operate more sustainably and efficiently in remote regions,” said Darren Entwistle, president and CEO, Telus. “Through this innovative technology, we look forward to ensuring even more Canadians are able to connect with what matters most.”

Mobile and IoT to satellite connectivity can ensure the following:

  1. Canadians in remote areas, hikers, campers have mobile access.
  2. Emergency services have backup connectivity in times of natural disasters or damage to cell towers
  3. Remote field worker connectivity and monitoring of critical operations like forestry, hence, improving employee safety and reducing costs
  4. Uninterrupted fleet vehicle tracking and management of supplies for businesses in the most remote areas
  5. Deliver real-time data visibility to farmers to improve decision-making and sustainability in remote agriculture.

Telus says it is looking to introduce devices equipped with 5G satellite capabilities to customers in 2024.

“We’ve been able to expand beyond smartphones – into wearables and low cost, low power, IoT devices,” said Tarun Gupta, chief product officer, Skylo. “This revolutionary new service will ubiquitously transform lives and businesses in a way no other mode of connectivity has done before.”

Telus is not alone in the race to offer satellite connectivity to Canadians. In August, Xplore promised to offer faster satellite internet to Canadians in rural locations via Jupiter 3, taking on Starlink which has dominated the satellite internet market in Canada since its arrival in 2020.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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