GSM Backhaul Solutions

Why GSM Backhaul via satellite is generating so much excitement.

With over four billion users worldwide, the cellular phone market has exploded into the largest telecom market on the planet.1 Now, telecom operators are seeking out new markets to find “the next billion” subscribers. Meanwhile, whole towns and villages, particularly in developing countries, are located in remote areas that have no cellular connectivity.

But thanks to GSM backhaul over satellite, which carries cellular traffic over a satellite connection, cellular operators and this largely untapped market are finding each other. GSM backhaul is a hot topic in Brazil, for example, where the federal government has created incentives for operators to provide service to remote areas. In exchange for granting spectrum and licenses to deliver lucrative 3G voice, data, and video services in urban locations, the government is making it mandatory for operators to also provide cellular service in remote areas.

Today, Hughes, a leading satellite service provider in Brazil, is providing a satellite based GSM backhaul solution to top Brazilian cellular operators TIM and Vivo for a combined 79 base transceiver stations (BTS). The service, which is expected to begin in May, will provide cell phone access to approximately half a million consumers and businesses in the northeastern region of Brazil. This important milestone, which is creating a great deal of excitement for the people who live and work in remote Brazilian towns, will bring cellular service to these areas for the first time.

“In Brazil, GSM backhaul over satellite is a triple-win solution,” said Delio Morais, president of Hughes Network Systems Americas. “Operators can grow their businesses and build revenue while complying with their universal service obligations. The government is furthering its policy to increase the penetration of technology—in this case, cellular connectivity—throughout the country. And people in remote areas can improve communication to the outside world and enrich their lives.”

GSM backhaul over satellite also holds enormous promise in other parts of the world including Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. It may just hold the key to reaching the next billion cellular users.

1 International Telecommunications Union, “Measuring the Information Society—The ICT Development Index.” 2009, Chapter 2 ICT Market Overview