EghtesadOnline: During Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day of martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), in addition to providing Iranian pilgrims visiting Iraq with enhanced telephony and Internet services through communication balloons, local authorities also tested other applications of the balloons that can be deployed during times of natural disaster.
The annual ritual that fell on October 30, was the second of its kind when the Iranian Space Research Center in collaboration with the ICT Ministry used communication balloons near the joint border with Iraq to provide pilgrims with enhanced communication services, CITNA reported.
In addition to providing pilgrims with services, other potentials of the hovering communications access points were tested. The balloons can be used during natural disasters when ground-based infrastructure is unusable or broken. Application of the balloons was successfully tested at the Mehran border crossing point from where unusually large numbers of pilgrims passed to pay tribute to the third Imam of Shiite Muslims whose mausoleum is in Karbala.
The balloons were equipped with radio-communication systems and were used for transmitting radio signals over long distances. The technology can be used for coordinating emergency services, Financial Tribune reported.
Deploying aerial communication devices for emergency communications is a globally applied method of communication when disaster strikes. In addition to balloons, the devices are hoisted above the earth on aircraft, drones, and helicopters.
According to the ICT Ministry, Arbaeen pilgrims exchanged 26.5 million minutes of phone calls with their dear ones in Iran after the rituals began 10 days ago.
Over 70% of the phone calls were initiated from inside Iran.
Esmael Ardakani, an official with the ICT Ministry said, “The pilgrims enjoyed remarkably-improved call quality while the tariffs were the same as last year.”
The communication tariffs were 9,000 rials per minute (6 cents) for fixed phone lines and 7,000 rials per minute (5 cents) for mobile services.
He pointed out that compared to last year, a larger number of Iranian pilgrims used roaming services for accessing the World Wide Web.
An estimated 2 million Iranians of all ages made the pilgrimage this year.