KDDI forged an agreement with SpaceX to provision a satellite-to-phone service in Japan to expand connectivity to areas beyond the reach of its 4G and 5G networks, including remote islands and mountains.

The companies aim to begin providing an SMS service in 2024, albeit KDDI noted this depends on development of relevant rules and regulations.

Ultimately, the Japanese operator plans to provide voice and data services.

KDDI stated the majority of existing smartphones on its network will be compatible with the satellite services.

The deal expands on a previous arrangement involving the use of Starlink satellites for mobile backhaul, which KDDI explained is helping to overcome geographic challenges that have impacted the coverage of 4G technology.

KDDI and SpaceX will also encourage other operators to collaborate on developing satellite-to-phone services.

The Japanese operator explained the goal is to ensure subscribers can access the set-up while roaming, advancing a connectivity strategy covering the period to 2030.