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Yahsat introduces smartphone to satellite connectivity

A mobile phone user in Dubai. The UAE has regions with poor connectivity, which Yahsat is hoping to improve Unsplash/Tim Gouw
A mobile phone user in Dubai. The UAE has regions with poor connectivity, which Yahsat is hoping to improve
  • Yahsat launches ‘direct to device’
  • Satellites to provide connectivity
  • Two-phase introduction

Al Yah Satellite Communications Company – Yahsat – has launched a “direct-to-device” strategy aiming to connect smartphones and internet of things devices to satellites, irrespective of their location.

UAE-based Yahsat plans to introduce voice and messaging services before expanding to texting and internet of things capabilities on smartphones by 2025, it said in a statement.

The internet of things refers to devices that can connect to other devices via an internet connection – from computers and smartphones to fridges.

It will use its Yahsat Geostationary Earth Orbit satellites to provide the service, which is expected to launch later this year.

Yahsat says the initiative will allow smartphone users in underserved and unserved communities to use non-stop connectivity globally via multi-orbit satellite constellations. 

The UAE has large areas that are not covered by conventional 4G and 5G linkages.

Yahsat’s fleet of five satellites reaches more than 80 percent of the world’s population and provides satellite communications solutions for land, maritime and aero platforms to consumers, governments and enterprises.

A second phase, named Project BlueStar, will allow full direct-to-device connectivity through a scalable satellite network.

The two-phase rollout covers the primary applications of voice, texting and data. 

Yahsat will showcase its direct-to-device portfolio at the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona later this month, the statement said.

In recent years, smartphones have gained satellite connectivity primarily for emergency and SOS communication.

According to an Apple blog post, for example, some of its newer iPhone models allow users to connect to a satellite and access emergency services, request assistance, and share their location even in areas without cellular or wifi coverage. 

Given the current number of satellites, such connections are likely to become a regular feature.

“This strategy is a critical and significant part of Yahsat’s wider growth strategy. We developed our D2D strategy – Project Sky – by carefully examining our strengths and capabilities and leveraging our expertise to capitalise on evolving market conditions,” said Ali Al Hashemi, group chief executive officer of Yahsat.

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