Hughes Network Systems, LLC announced the successful three-month pilot of a new Community LTE service at five villages in Brazil. Designed to serve people who live outside the reach of cable, fiber and cellular networks, Community LTE creates a mobile hotspot across several kilometers that connects to the internet by satellite. Anyone can access the broadband service with an LTE-enabled device simply by purchasing data at the local retailer who hosts the hotspot.
Since launching the pilot program, hundreds of people have used the LTE service. One of them is Ivone Cordeiro who lives near the town of Japonvar in the state of Minas Gerais. “We live in the rural area, and the phone signal here is really poor,” she said. “Now, even being about a kilometer away from the center of town, the Hughes service allows me to use internet in my house with a good signal and speed, and even use text apps or social media.”
“Connecting the unconnected is a global imperative, yet no single type of transport can solve the digital divide,” said Bhanu Durvasula, vice president, international division at Hughes. “Our Community LTE program exemplifies a multi-transport solution that combines LTE and satellite to expand coverage to those in need. It’s another solution that governments and mobile network operators can implement to extend networks and connect more people, cost-effectively.”
At each site, Hughes integrates its JUPITER™ high throughput satellite capacity and equipment with an LTE small cell and an opensource network core—effectively creating a private LTE network. With this edge configuration, subscriber traffic gets processed locally, rather than traversing the satellite backlink to the central network core—saving bandwidth and money for the operator when compared to traditional backhaul.
Hughes recruited local retailers to host the Community LTE hotspots and provides marketing and training support so they can manage sales and earn revenue.
Thais Barbosa, a shop owner and host of the Community LTE hotspot in Melancias, said, “Communication here was always hard. We went through days without cellular signal. Now that people are starting to know this internet service from Hughes, they ended up pleased and my commerce has increased.”
Similar to the Hughes Community Wi-Fi Hotspot services that combine a Wi-Fi access point with satellite backhaul to power internet across 50 to 80 meters, Hughes Community LTE service serves a larger area of approximately five square kilometers.
“This pilot test proved our use case for Community LTE in three important ways,” said Durvasula. “First, as an effective way to connect the unconnected to essential broadband. Second, in helping local businesses earn more revenue. Third, helping MNOs extend mobile network reach quickly and inexpensively—especially to small villages that would otherwise not have internet access.”