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Exploring Telus’ Pioneering Step into D2D Satellite Communication

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The competition for providing satellite direct-to-device (D2D) services in Canada’s wilderness just got interesting. Telus, declared being the first Canadian operator to successfully enable two-way communication between smartphones and IoT devices on earth and Echostar T1, a geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) satellite.

Working in collaboration with TerreStar and Skylo, Telus said it leveraged a connectivity platform designed to offer seamless roaming between regular devices and non-terrestrial networks (NTNs). TerreStar operates a satellite network under the Strigo brand, while Skylo is responsible for the connectivity platform.

The applications for satellite services span crucial functions like emergency communication, fleet tracking, as well as connectivity for remote workers, hikers, and isolated IoT sensors. “This groundbreaking trial demonstrates the power of satellite technology and advances Telus’ mission to bring vital connectivity to every area of Canada,” said Telus CEO Darren Entwistle. He added that the partnership has paved the way for everyone to access potentially life-saving connectivity and that businesses and institutions could operate more effectively in remote areas.

Telus’s announcement about using a GEO satellite for D2D communication differentiates them from previous statements this year. Regular smartphones cannot establish a direct connection to most GEO satellites located 35,000 km above the Earth’s surface.

In April, Rogers partnered with SpaceX, aspiring to offer D2D connectivity to Starlink’s low-Earth orbit (LEO) constellation. However, Starlink depends on a dedicated terminal for network access. Its new satellites providing D2D connectivity are expected to become operational only by late 2024.

Telus could leverage the operational status of EchoStar T1 to gain an upper hand over its competitors. “With the convergence of TerreStar, Telus and Skylo’s cutting-edge technologies, we’re charting a course towards a future where no corner of Canada is left unconnected,” said TerreStar president Jacques Leduc. Tarun Gupta, CPO and co-founder of Skylo, echoed his sentiments, “This revolutionary new service will ubiquitously transform lives and businesses in a way no other mode of connectivity has done before.”

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