Further evidence of the continuing importance of satellites in extending the reach of mobile services come from Brazil where satcoms equipment and services giant Hughes has announced the successful three-month pilot of what it calls a new Community LTE service in five villages in Brazil.
Designed to serve people who live outside the reach of cable, fibre and cellular networks, Community LTE creates a mobile hotspot across several kilometres that connects to the internet by satellite. Hughes says that anyone can access the broadband service with an LTE-enabled device by purchasing data at the local retailer who hosts the hotspot.
At each site, Hughes integrates its JUPITER high-throughput satellite capacity and equipment with an LTE small cell and an opensource network core – effectively creating a private LTE network. With this edge configuration, subscriber traffic gets processed locally, rather than traversing the satellite backlink to the central network core – saving bandwidth and money for the operator when compared to traditional backhaul.
Hughes has recruited local retailers to host the Community LTE hotspots in rural areas and provides marketing and training support so they can manage sales and earn revenue. The company says that since the launching of the pilot programme, hundreds of people have used the LTE service.
The service is described as similar to the Hughes Community Wi-Fi Hotspot services that combine a Wi-Fi access point with satellite backhaul to power internet across 50-80 metres. However, the Hughes Community LTE service serves a larger area of approximately five square kilometres.