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Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales to trial 5G from space

A consortium of three telecom, technology and defense companies plans to bring 5G to space by developing a satellite network that could enable smartphone users to access super-fast speeds and low latency wirelessly anywhere in the world.

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson, French aerospace company Thales and US chip company Qualcomm are testing how a 5G network could work with LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites to make it easier for individuals in some of the most extreme topographies and remote locations to access wireless internet.

The test bed for the 5G network, which could also serve as a backup for terrestrial networks in the event of failures or disasters, will be built at a Thales site that mimics the space environment in France.

For the first time, the pilot study represents a network supplier such as e.g ericsson has attempted to use LEO satellites to extend 5G connectivity to smartphones. It could pave the way for global wireless coverage from space at a time when governments are increasingly concerned with ensuring the autonomy and resilience of their telecommunications infrastructure.

However, it must overcome significant hurdles to connect terrestrial infrastructure to satellites, ensure the network it creates is not prohibitively expensive, and finally secure private or public funding to launch the satellites.

The burgeoning LEO ecosystem is dominated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX initiative, but a growing number of companies are looking to get involved Low Earth Economy – Located between 150 km and 2,000 km above the Earth – where there are opportunities to increase scale and reduce costs.

“There is no G from space at the moment, this would be the first,” said Hakan Djuphammar, Ericsson’s director of special projects. “LION [satellites] have reduced the distance the radio signal has to travel” and made it “much less expensive to send up a satellite,” he added. “The development [of LEO] has been exponential in recent years, largely because of SpaceX.”

Testing of a potential new LEO 5G network, designed to verify that the technology can actually work on smartphones, has been made possible by the release of a new standard for “non-terrestrial networks” by one of telecom’s most influential standards bodies. 3GPP, earlier this year.

Some smaller companies have begun testing their own proprietary space-based networks for phones, which do not rely on the industry standard and would therefore likely be of limited scope. AST SpaceMobile, for example, is building a space-based cellular network and has announced that it will launch its first satellite in mid-August.

Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm have yet to set a date for the launch of their first LEO satellites, but hope they can be deployed in the “next few years” and say they will try to get dedicated satellite spectrum for their network .

Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales to trial 5G from space Source link Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales to trial 5G from space

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