How it works
A communications network would be based on a satellite placed in orbit and used by residents with cellular telephones. It would replace the current system of ground-based phone lines.
The satellite would eliminate reliance on land-line networks, which are vulnerable to earthquake and other disasters.
Short-term or Long-term Impact
Some experts believe such satellites will be lofted by the end of this decade. But problems of cost, opposition by telephone companies and government regulation could delay them.
Satellites already have the channel capacity to handle millions of telephone customers, backers say. Those with cellular phones would simply install small ground-station dishes at their homes and dial away. Because such a system would not rely on wires or fiber optics, it would be "unbreakable" during a quake or other disaster.