Japanese mobile service provider Softbank announced today that it will sell satellite phones that can be used during tsunamis, earthquakes, or other events during which traditional mobile phone service may be unavailable. The carrier has partnered with Dubai-based Thuraya, a satellite phone and service provider, to sell satellite-based phones to its home market. Softbank, which is in the midst of a $20.1 billion acquisition of US carrier Sprint, has been slower than other Japanese carriers to restore critical mobile services after natural disaster-caused outages. Satellite phone sales will primarily target essential services such as government officials, energy providers, and local media, though private citizens will be able to buy the phones through retail outlets in order to stay connected during critical events. No word yet on price, though Japanese consumers can expect these phones on the market by February.
DUBAI, UAE, December 17, 2012 - Thuraya Telecommunications, a leading Mobile Satellite Services operator and Softbank Mobile, a telecommunications leader in Japan today announced they have signed an agreement with the goal of bringing mobile satellite communication services for Japanese business, enterprise, and consumer subscribers across Thuraya's satellite network. SoftBank Mobile has applied and successfully received approval from the Japanese regulator to provide Thuraya's satellite network services in Japan. Commencing as from February 2013, the Thuraya's handsets and airtime services will be sold to customers from Softbank Mobile's distribution channels. As part of the agreement, the two companies will collaborate together to design a new version of Thuraya's handset with special features. This new edition of the Thuraya handset will be available exclusively for sale from SoftBank Mobile.
Thuraya's services are available to SoftBank users venturing outside of terrestrial networks, or in areas where those networks are either unavailable or are vulnerable to natural disasters. Media, energy, government, and all other types of enterprises, as well as individual consumers will be able to avail themselves of Thuraya's services and a multitude of solutions to enable them to communicate from anywhere in Japan and the maritime areas surrounding it, and at any time.
"During the disruption caused to mobile network services when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit in 2011, satellite communication services played a significant role in restoring network transmission services and providing subscribers with preliminary communication services. By partnering with Thuraya, SoftBank Mobile aims to provide reliable and easily deployable emergency mobile telecommunication services during times of disaster recovery operations." said SoftBank Mobile's Executive Vice President, Director & CTO, Junichi Miyakawa. "With the partnership with a trusted satellite operator coupled with a superb mobile satellite products, SoftBank Mobile is well positioned to provide our subscribers with high-quality and reliable mobile voice communications across Thuraya's broad geographic footprint both on land and at sea."
"Like SoftBank Mobile, Thuraya is committed to providing reliable connectivity to serve humanity. This groundbreaking alliance between our companies represents an exciting milestone for SoftBank's subscribers who can now benefit from comprehensive coverage of our satellite network." explained Samer Halawi, Chief Executive Officer for Thuraya. "This Agreement is another example of Thuraya's flexibility and product innovation which has met the specific requirements of SoftBank and its customers. Thuraya is looking forward to bringing the best of mobile satellite devices and industry expertise in support of critical communication services in our partnership with SoftBank Mobile."