Tag Archive for: 5G

Lynk Global have made it clear that they will test the ability to send a 5G signal from a satellite launching in December to standard mobile devices, after getting funding for the demonstration from an undisclosed partner.

The experimental 5G payload will be onboard its second commercial satellite, which SpaceX is slated to fly on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of its Transporter 6 rideshare mission.

Two other Lynk Global satellites are also due to fly on this mission to give the Virginia-based startup four commercial satellites in low Earth orbit.

Lynk’s initial satellites are designed to provide connectivity for its mobile network operator (MNO) partners’ customers over 2G to 4G. 

The startup said “in the future” its software-defined radios “will be able to switch to 5G when our MNO partners and other customers prefer that over 4G.”

Details of the 5G tests were not disclosed.

Lynk has plans to operate more than 50 satellites before the end of 2023, which it says would enable users to send and receive text messages every 15-30 minutes.

Charles Miller, Lynk’s CEO, expects MNOs will want to upgrade from 4G to 5G satellite connectivity in 2025, when the startup would be able to provide “continuous” voice and broadband data services from orbit.

“Another issue is how prevalent the demand for 5G will be from our MNO partners,” Miller said via email.

“If we are only putting 5G beams down in a country, that means that 4G phones will not get service. Our MNO partners will need to decide when a transition takes place from 4G to 5G. This decision is up to the MNOs.”

He added: “I suspect Lynk will be ready to provide 5G services well before MNOs want to make the transition from 4G to 5G.”

Lynk’s long-term plan is to beam down 4G connectivity in one spectrum band and 5G in another, enabling MNOs to use both 4G and 5G services.

Texas-based startup AST SpaceMobile plans to start deploying its first commercial spacecraft in late 2023. These will be larger than Lynk’s pizza-boxed shaped satellites for providing voice, video streaming, and other higher bandwidth services.

AST’s BlueWalker-3 prototype satellite, which SpaceX launched Sept. 10, is slated to unfurl its 64-square-meter antenna in the next couple of weeks to test its ability to bring 4G and 5G connectivity to standard mobile phones.

SpaceX announced plans to provide its own direct-to-cell service as early as late next year in partnership with U.S.-based MNO T-Mobile.

“Lynk is years ahead of everyone else in enabling MNOs to extend their cellular networks to 100% of their geographic territories,” Dan Dooley, Lynk’s chief commercial officer of Lynk, said in a statement.

“We will be years ahead in 5G as well.”

He said Lynk is actively testing satellite-direct-to-phone-services in 12 countries on five continents. 

The startup secured regulatory approval Sept. 16 to operate its initial cellphone-compatible constellation globally; however, it has not yet obtained landing rights in any country to provide services.

DoD could take advantage of low Earth orbit satellites to deliver 5G for mobile users.

A $600 million DoD initiative to demonstrate 5G wireless networks at military bases nationwide is primarily focused on terrestrial communications but is being closely watched by the satellite industry as non-terrestrial networks increasingly become part of the 5G ecosystem.  

These DoD experiments with 5G also will serve as an indicator of how the military intends to employ commercial technologies for fixed and mobile communications, which could shape future demand for space-based services.

 “The question is where do they go with it?” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of the defense business division of Hughes Network Systems. 

Satellite operators Hughes and Viasat are among several telecommunications technology firms that have won Pentagon contracts under the 5G pilot project.

“After this experimentation phase, we understand that in the 2024 budget cycle we may see it being programmed in for operational use,” Lober told SpaceNews. 

The next step would be for DoD to take advantage of Low Earth Orbit satellites with lower latencies to deliver 5G for mobile users, Lober said. 

“What we’re doing now is terrestrial. But what’s coming next is that a 5G standard is going to be adopted for space. So we’re going to be talking about satellite-direct-to-phone connections, probably using LEO networks,” he said.

Hughes, an investor in OneWeb, plans to partner with the company on DoD 5G efforts. 

Most recently, satellite communication provider SatixFy Technology announced it successfully demonstrated 5G backhaul communications connected to a OneWeb satellite in low Earth orbit.

Amazon’s LEO network known as Project Kuiper has teamed with Verizon Communications to pair Verizon’s 5G terrestrial mobile network with Kuiper satellites. 

The Pentagon views the 5G race as part of the U.S. strategic competition with China, and DoD could leverage mobile 5G to fill communications needs not currently met by military satellites, said Lober. 

A major development for space-based 5G was the recent release of standards by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the international body responsible for defining technical specifications for mobile wireless networks.. The latest standards release — 3GPP Release 17 — deals with non-terrestrial networks and supports expansion of coverage using satellites.

“Commercial industry is driving that, and I think the DoD can really take advantage of it,” said Lober. “5G gives you much higher throughput, and much lower latency. And what a lot of people don’t realize is that lower latency allows you to do edge computing on the battlefield.”

The satcom industry expects more funding for 5G in the Pentagon’s 2024 budget, he said. “We hope to see funding to take what we’ve done experimenting with terrestrial and make it operational.”

Commercial mobile 5G from space would be a worthwhile option for DoD to fill future narrowband communications needs, he added. The U.S. Space Force is considering buying two more Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites that provide voice and low-rate data transfer for mobile users.

Current MUOS satellites are oversubscribed, and the Space Force is conducting an analysis of alternatives to determine whether it should buy two more MUOS, opt for a new design or use commercial services. 

One of the issues with MUOS is that there are not enough user handsets and terminals in the U.S. military to take advantage of the features of the more advanced payload. Most users have older terminals that only communicate with MUOS legacy payload that has outdated technology. 

“This has been a big problem,” said Lober. “Commercially, we look at space, ground terminal and network management, all in parallel.”

Now the industry is moving to space-based 5G and “we feel that the DoD should strongly consider that for their narrowband analysis of alternatives,” said Lober. “The beauty of that is that if you can get the same device to operate terrestrial and space, you’re really advancing things.”

Photo: OneWeb.

After 5G NGSO Broadband Failures In our recent column, we proposed a golden triangle of competitive differentiation in the satcom industry, comprising advantageous configurations of orbit, spectrum and payload to host a subset of 5G satcom services within a unified “network of networks.”

With the LeoSat shutdown, and OneWeb and Intelsat recently filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it seems timely to revisit that golden triangle and ask what it tells us about the future for 5G satcom investors.

While we didn’t see the writing on the wall for OneWeb, we were very clear that it would be difficult to be commercially successful in the NGSO consumer broadband market. Since then, OneWeb’s primary investor Softbank apparently concluded that making a success of the company’s combination of Ku- Ka-band spectrum and a NGSO orbit to deliver broadband services would have been a tough gig. Bearing in mind that the OneWeb event follows LeoSat investors reaching a similar conclusion towards the end of 2019, it will be fascinating to see what new ideas will emerge from prospective investors now circling around OneWeb’s Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) assets.

Since our last column, Intelsat has also filed for Chapter 11, in a move clearly linked to maximizing the value of their C-band spectrum rights, and Ligado has been given a long-awaited go-ahead to rollout a 5G network incorporating hybrid terrestrial and GEO satellite services in L-band. These are significant developments that will help to shape the evolution of 5G convergence, but it is undoubtedly the case that satcom investors have taken a bumpy ride on the journey to 5G nirvana. The repurposing of incumbent spectrum rights is a hugely important part of the satcom 5G puzzle; possibly the most important element and certainly the primary battleground for today’s investors.

While OneWeb had set its sights on the broadband market, other NGSO operators developing Internet of Things (IoT) services in sub- 6 GHz spectrum have continued to meet recent funding goals, albeit at lower orders of magnitude. Perhaps, according to recent events, the prohibitive scale of investment required to build a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband service will cause NGSO investors to put sharper focus on the 5G IoT opportunity?

And once the dust settles over the question as to which orbit/spectrum configurations are most investable for the provision of 5G satellite broadband and IoT services, differentiated payload strategies will become the next axis of differentiation between competing operators. Only time will tell how many NGSO constellation are really needed to fulfill the needs of a unified, global 5G network of networks. But since there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to every 5G use case, it will be fascinating to continue speculating how this complex patchwork will finally be knitted together. After 5G NGSO Broadband Failures

Putting in place an open standards framework to support that complexity is no mean feat, and the 3GPP community still has its work cut out to maintain pace on the standardization effort for integrated Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) in Release 17 and Release 18. That task, somewhat inhibited by our current COVID-19 situation, must also be completed to drive returns to those investing in 5G space infrastructure. But standards alone are by nature undifferentiated, and it is pertinent for 5G network operators to ask how these standard protocols and waveforms can be leveraged to extract maximum value from their own variant of the golden triangle.

Just for now, let’s keep a watching brief on the OneWeb assets as a retesting of investment appetite for 5G NGSO broadband. Whatever the direction of travel of the industry from here on, and despite the current focus on satellite spectrum assets, it is important to bear in mind that a successful endgame must encompass all three pillars of the golden triangle (spectrum, orbit and payload). Even a small mismatch to market expectations can impair business cases and dominance in just one of the pillars will be insufficient for clinching the advantage.

T-Mobile Completes Merger with Sprint to Create the New T-Mobile, led by Mike Sievert.

T-Mobile completed its merger with Sprint Corporation, the wireless company announced Wednesday. The new combined parent company T-Mobile US, Inc., will operate under the name T-Mobile.

The new T-Mobile has pledged to deliver a nationwide 5G network, providing 5G to 99% of the U.S. population within six years, with average 5G speeds in excess of 100 Mbps. The company also plans to cover 90% of Americans who live in rural parts of the country with average 5G speeds of 50 Mbps, which the company claims is up to two times faster than average broadband.

With the close of the merger, Mike Sievert became CEO of T-Mobile, replacing John Legere.

“During this extraordinary time, it has become abundantly clear how vital a strong and reliable network is to the world we live in. The New T-Mobile’s commitment to delivering a transformative broad and deep nationwide 5G network is more important and more needed than ever and what we are building is mission-critical for consumers,” Sievert said. “With this powerful network, the New T-Mobile will deliver real choice and value to wireless and home broadband customers.”

The merger, which the FCC approved in November 2019, paves the way for Dish Network to acquire Sprint’s prepaid assets, part of a deal Dish made with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in order to appease antitrust concerns about the merger. Dish plans to acquire Boost Mobile, and the Sprint-branded prepaid service; 14 MHz of Sprint’s nationwide 800 MHz spectrum; and access the new T-Mobile network for seven years, including the ability to serve Dish customers between T-Mobile’s nationwide network and Dish’s new independent 5G broadband network.

In July 2019, Dish entered the market as a fourth wireless carrier, and committed to the FCC that the company will deploy a facilities-based 5G broadband network capable of serving 70% of the U.S. population by June 2023.