Tests show 5G NB-IoT links over satellite

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The results of MediaTek and Inmarsat’s field test of narrowband NB-IoT will be given to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)’s Rel-17 standardization work on Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN). The project is intended to establish 5G standards in new applications.

The 5G satellite NB-IoT technology formed a bi-directional link from MediaTek’s satellite-enabled standard NB-IoT device to a commercial GEO satellite. The successful test lays a foundation for hybrid satellite and cellular networks that will allow new 5G IoT services at a global scale. This follows a deal between Sony Semiconductor Israel (Altair) and Skylo for 5G NB-IoT services over geostationary satellite networks.

“MediaTek’s collaboration with Inmarsat will accelerate industry efforts to converge cellular and satellite networks in the 5G era. MediaTek is a leading connectivity provider and contributor to 3GPP standards, and our ongoing work with Inmarsat GEO satellites will help drive 5G innovation across verticals like IoT,” said Dr. Ho-Chi Hwang, MediaTek General Manager of Communication System Design.

The 5G NB-IoT test was run at a base station in the Fucino Space Center in Italy that was designed by Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry (III). The test device, using MediaTek’s satellite-enabled NB-IoT chipset, was located in Northern Italy. The system successfully formed a communication channel and undertook data transfer with the ‘Alphasat’ GEO satellite.

The test was run to provide proof of the feasibility of new global standards and the open market potential of using a single device for connecting both satellite and cellular networks.

“Testing MediaTek’s standard NB-IoT chip over Inmarsat’s established GEO satellite network has proven technology from mobile networks works effectively over GEO satellites with little modification and will provide a very cost effective path to ubiquitous and hybrid global IoT coverage,” said Jonathan Beavon, Senior Director, Inmarsat Product Group.

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