Japan-based KDDI selected SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service as a backhaul provider, as it prepares to roll out high-speed wireless internet coverage in rural areas by early 2022.

In a statement, KDDI disclosed Starlink will deliver broadband internet to 1,200 remote mobile towers, complementing its urban towers using fibre for backhaul.

The companies started a series of technical demonstrations to evaluate the quality and performance of the mobile backhaul.

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issued an experimental licence to operate a ground station for the Starlink service, located at KDDI’s Yamaguchi Satellite Communication Centre.

SpaceX claims its fleet of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites offer low latency and high transmission speeds because they are positioned close to Earth.

Starlink is in beta in 14 countries.

In May, KDDI rival SoftBank Corp partnered with satellite communications company OneWeb to develop “advanced seamless connectivity” in Japan and other markets.

During MWC21 Barcelona, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk explained Starlink had launched everywhere except the North and South poles, and hoped to be serving 500,000 users within 12 months.