Lockheed Martin has developed the first system that will provide reliable 4G LTE cell phone service to existing cell phones through hot spots that receive the service from satellites, according to a company news release. The system could be used in areas without cellphone coverage, by off-shore boats or during natural disasters.
“When disaster strikes, cell phone networks often go down — whether because of the event or because of the sheer volume of traffic,” said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Mission Solutions at Lockheed Martin Space. “So, it’s important to have new ways to connect families and first responders with people who would be otherwise cut off from contact.”
Satellite phones are often the only option for mobile connectivity in an emergency, the release shows. The new system produced by Lockheed Martin will allow people to use existing cell phones to connect to a pop-up cellular network that is connected to a satellite. Globally, more than one-third of all cell phone subscriptions use 4G LTE, according to a report from Global mobile Suppliers Association. This level of service allows for broadband data, voice and text messaging, so photos and files can be sent and commerce can take place even if traditional communication services are disrupted.
The new system is not limited to use only for natural disasters or terrorist attacks but also can be used by offshore fishermen out of range from cell phone towers, remote mineral production outposts, scientific and research stations and in agricultural operations. Hotspots can be mounted to vehicles, trucks or ships to provide connectivity. With a vehicle-mounted device, the service follows the driver, such as a first responder on the way to the scene. It also can be used on cargo trucks to transmit location data, shipment information and allow for voice communication to connect with a dispatcher.