5G satellite NB-IoT technology put to the test

Inmarsat Services Ltd

Friday, 21 August, 2020

5G satellite NB-IoT technology put to the test

Inmarsat and semiconductor company MediaTek have collaborated on field trials, the results from which will be contributed to the 3GPP’s Rel-17 standardisation work on Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN), which is part of its overarching initiative to establish 5G standards towards new use cases and services.

The trials of new 5G satellite NB-IoT technology established a bidirectional link from MediaTek’s satellite-enabled standard narrowband NB-IoT device to Inmarsat’s Alphasat L-band satellite in geostationary orbit (GEO) 35,786 kilometres above the Earth.

According to Inmarsat, the successful test builds the foundation for hybrid satellite and cellular networks to enable new ubiquitous 5G IoT services at global scale.

“MediaTek’s collaboration with Inmarsat will accelerate industry efforts to converge cellular and satellite networks in the 5G era,” said Dr Ho-Chi Hwang, MediaTek General Manager, Communication System Design.

“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.”

The two companies ran the test with a base station located at the Fucino Space Centre in Italy developed by Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry.

The test device, built with MediaTek’s satellite-enabled NB-IoT chipset, was located in Northern Italy. The prototype system established a communication channel and data transfer with Alphasat.

The successful test could provide proof of the feasibility of new global standards and 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.

Image courtesy Inmarsat.

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