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Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T says it has passed a key milestone in satellite-to-mobile connectivity as the company pushes to bring the technology to the entire country next year.

A test call on Sunday connected Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey with Mabel Tilley, a first responder with the Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association, in a remote area near Heart’s Content, N.L.

A news release today describes the call as “historic” and says it was made using Lynk Global’s low Earth orbit satellites and Rogers’ wireless spectrum.

The location of the call was symbolic, as the world’s first successful transatlantic telegraph cable was received in Heart’s Content in 1866.

Rogers says it plans to launch satellite-to-mobile phone service in 2024, beginning with SMS texting and mass notifications and expanding to voice and data.

A spokesperson for the company said the services will be available only to Rogers customers, but everyone will have access to 911, even if their provider doesn’t have service in the area.

“This new technology will deliver wireless services to the country’s most remote wilderness, national parks and rural highways,” the release Thursday said.

Rogers announced in April it had partnered with Lynk Global in an effort to bring satellite-to-phone service across the country. Sunday’s test call is the first step toward realizing that plan.

Search and rescue professionals have long bemoaned the lack of cellular service in rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian Coast Guard said in September that a lack of cell service was its “biggest challenge” during a search for a cod fisherman who disappeared after a boat sank off Newfoundland’s northeast coast.

“Newfoundland and Labrador is a vast, largely rural province, and connectivity is an important issue for us,” Furey said in today’s release. “I am excited about the breakthrough technology Rogers is testing to improve network coverage and the safety of people in our province and across the country.”

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