Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales launch test to explore “anywhere on Earth” 5G
Ericsson has joined forces with chip firm Qualcomm and French aerospace company Thales to test 5G across Earth-orbiting satellites which cover remote areas not currently serviced by terrestrial networks.
Following detailed research by each firm, the partners now plan to enter smartphone-use-case-focused testing and validation of 5G non-terrestrial networks (5G NTN) in an emulated space environment in France.
Ericsson claims the results could mean that a future 5G smartphone could use connectivity “anywhere on Earth” and supply complete global coverage for wideband data services.
The benefits of 5G connectivity via low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are expected to include coverage in extreme geographies or remote areas across seas, oceans and other locations where terrestrial coverage is absent.
The Swedish vendor added that the expected security capabilities of 5G NTNs mean that national government communications may be a main use case, to enhance safe and secure national security and public safety government networks.
It added that the network’s widespread connectivity would also lend itself to use cases in the transportation, energy and health sectors, as well as for back-up support to terrestrial networks in the event of major network outages or disasters.
The testing and validation by Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies – following the March 2022 go-ahead by global telco standards body 3GPP – is intended to support non-terrestrial networks for the first time.
The goal of the testing is to confirm various technology components needed to enable 5G non-terrestrial networks. The work also aims to validate the use of 5G NTN in a smartphone – allowing tomorrow’s 5G smartphone to effectively become a satellite-phone.
Ericsson senior vice president and CTO Erik Ekudden hailed the cooperation between the three firms as “a major milestone in the history of communications.”
He added “The ultimate result could effectively mean that no matter where you are on Earth – in the middle of an ocean or the remotest forest – high-end, secure and cost-effective connectivity will be available through collaborative 5G satellite and terrestrial connectivity.”
Philippe Keryer, Thales executive VP of Strategy, Research and Technology added:
“The research collaboration will demonstrate the belief of our companies that 5G non-terrestrial Networks will contribute to this revolution and will take network resiliency and security to the next level. ”
According to Ekudden while it was too early to say when any resulting 5G equipped prototype satellite could be launched into orbit for operational use, the ground-based testing and validation work planned between the three firms was “key to making it happen”.
Last month Ericsson also announced the results of another 5G connectivity partnership with Qualcomm – and OPPO – a 5G enterprise network slicing solution on a commercial Android 12 handset.
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