The Japanese government is planning a communication system that keeps everyone connected during disasters.
Japan just got hit again by two earthquakes. When a disaster like an earthquake strikes the regular communication infrastructure is often breaking down. The Japanese government is devising a satellite based system that is providing a basic text message communication system during disasters.
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Regular GPS satellites will transmit text messages between survivors, rescue teams and officials. Japan plans to use the so called Michibiki satellite for the system. The first satellite 'Michibiki' was launched in 2010. It is part of a four satellite based GPS system that is supposed to be fully operational by 2018.
Basically Japan is now adding another usage to the so called e Quasi-Zenith Satellite System, JAXA is setting up.
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The disaster communication system will only support text messages. According to Nikkei, the messages from survivors will be relayed to a command center via the satellites. To use this service phones and devices need to support the communication with the Michibiki satellites. A first trial is scheduled for 2018. A proof of concept test wil be done later this year using a router instead of the satellites.