ISRO developing cheaper satellite phone link

Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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Hyderabad: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on a new device to drastically reduce the cost of satellite phone usage and enable access to remote areas of the country, a top space agency official said here Monday.

"We are finalising the design of GSAT-6 experimental satellite that will carry the device to connect mobile handsets through a satellite link. It will make access cheaper with connectivity even in remote areas," ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair told IANS at the first plenary session of the International Aeronautical Congress (IAC 2007) on the inaugural day.

Referring to the exponential growth of mobile subscriber base in the sub-continent after the advent of the cellular technology in the GSM and CDMA space, Nair said a similar revolution would take place when satellite phones become affordable by better and efficient use of space technology and applications.

"We hope to launch GSAT-6 in the next three years with the special device in the transponders for providing direct access to mobile phones on the lines of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite link used for television broadcasting," Nair pointed out.

The GSAT-6 will be launched by the indigenous GSLV (geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle) and deployed in the geo-stationary orbit at 36,000km from earth by 2010.

"A subscriber will be able to connect his or her GSM phone when signals from the mobile service provider fail or do not reach by automatically switching over to the satellite link," ISRO scientific secretary Bhaskara Narayana said.

"We are also designing a larger solar antenna for the satellite, which will be five times bigger than the present 2.2-metre antenna used in the communication satellites for newsgathering and television broadcasting," he added.

The larger antenna will be deployed as an umbrella in space.

It may be recalled Iridium LLC, a satellite phone service provider, shut shop after it went bankrupt in 2000 due to heavy losses and dwindling subscriber base owing to steep access costs.

Abu Dhabi-based Thuraya Satellite Communications is the only operator providing both satellite-based and GSM-based services to millions of users in about 110 countries from two commercial satellites.
Source: IANS
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