Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank is looking to utilize satellite phone technology as a means of communication in the event of earthquakes and other natural disasters. According to IDG, the carrier is partnering with Thuraya, a Dubai-based provider of satellite-based phones and service to offer a special handset designed specifically to provide more reliable service during disasters — recent events like last year's massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami left SoftBank struggling to restart its service, compared to its competitors.

While the new emergency satellite phones will be targeted at the government, media, and energy companies, SoftBank, who is planning to purchase Sprint for $20.1 billion, did say that ordinary citizens would be able to buy them as well, though the price has yet to be announced. Additionally, SoftBank also has built out its standard wireless towers over the last year to help avoid the kinds of outages it experienced last year. With emergency response during a natural disaster always a top-of-mind concern in Japan, more communication options are certainly important to the country's citizens.