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Advisory panel proposes setting up emergency satellite communication network

  • June 6, 2016
  • , Yomiuri evening edition , p. 3
  • Translation

An advisory panel to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that is studying emergency communication measures for medical and relief activities in natural disasters released a draft report on June 3. The report proposes setting up a satellite communication network for medical and relief centers as a means of emergency communication, and stressed the need for training in the handling of such equipment.

 

Up to 1.9 million fixed communication network circuits were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. In the Kumamoto earthquakes this April, up to 396 base stations operated by three cell-phone carriers were forced to suspend operations. There is a pressing need to introduce satellite communication networks as a last resort, including a satellite cellphone service that enables voice calls and Internet-capable satellite data communications. However, satellite communications are not widely available at present because of high communication charges and difficulty of operation.

 

The report stressed the need for practical training and a skill certification system, citing cases in which the handling of such equipment failed after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The report proposed that the government and relevant organizations strongly promote research and development that will enhance technology innovation, such as capacity expansion aimed at reducing communication costs and faster satellite communications.

 

The advisory panel will finalize the report in June and submit it to Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi. Based on the report, the government intends to embark on research and development for low cost, high-speed, and easy handling of communications as early as next fiscal year in cooperation with telecommunications carriers and research institutions.

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