Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales will launch 5G in space

After conducting detailed research individually, including numerous studies and simulations, the parties plan to enter a testing and validation phase focusing on smartphone use cases for 5G non-terrestrial networks (5G NTN).

The result could concretely mean that a future 5G smartphone will be able to use 5G connectivity anywhere on Earth and provide complete global coverage for broadband data services, including in areas normally only covered by legacy satellite phone companies with limited systems. connectivity options.

The benefits of 5G connectivity via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are expected to include coverage in extreme geographies or remote locations across seas, oceans and other locations where land coverage is absent.

Such widespread connectivity would enhance roaming service capabilities for subscribers equipped with 5G smartphones and enable global connectivity for 5G use cases in transportation, energy and healthcare.

The satellite network can also serve as a backup solution for terrestrial networks in the event of major breakdowns or disasters.

National government communications can be an important use case considering the security features expected of non-terrestrial 5G networks, especially to strengthen the security and resilience of government networks (national security and public safety).

Erik Ekudden, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Ericsson, said: “This test and validation collaboration between Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies will be a major milestone in the history of communications, as the end result could concretely mean that wherever you are on Earth – in the middle of an ocean or in the remotest forest – advanced, secure and cost-effective connectivity will be available via 5G satellite and ground-based cooperative links.”

Nora Wahby, Vice President and Head of Customer Unit West Africa and Morocco at Ericsson Middle East and Africa said: “The testing and validation collaboration between Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies is encouraging and enables us to connect everything and everyone in a secure and affordable way. -efficient way. This means we will be able to deploy connectivity in mountains, deserts, seas, oceans and any other remote location. This is revolutionary for connectivity options and a step in the promise of ubiquitous 5G connectivity. In Morocco, we look forward to potential applications that can contribute to the country’s digital strategy and accelerate the digitization of relevant industries.”

John Smee, senior vice president of engineering at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc, said: “For 5G to deliver on its promise of ubiquitous connectivity, it is imperative that it can also deliver network coverage in areas where terrestrial mobile network technologies do not exist, whether across the oceans or in more remote areas. Our research with Ericsson and Thales marks the beginning of an important step towards making this vital technology a reality. We look forward to seeing what this collaboration can achieve.”

Philippe Keryer, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Research and Technology, Thales, said: “The development of 5G networks marks a game-changing moment for the telecommunications industry. It is a game-changer, not only in terms of commercial opportunities, but also with regard to the skills required to connect and protect billions of people and all that exists. Thales is deeply involved in this through the Group’s various activities. Our research collaboration with Ericsson and Qualcomm will demonstrate our companies’ conviction that non-terrestrial 5G networks will contribute to this revolution and take network resilience and security to the next level.”


Testing and validation by Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies, after the green light given in March 2022 by 3GPP, the global telecommunications standards body, aims to support the first non-terrestrial networks.

The purpose of the test will be to validate the various technological components required to establish 5G non-terrestrial networks, including: a 5G smartphone, a satellite payload and 5G network elements on the ground.

This work also aims to validate that non-terrestrial 5G networks can be supported in the smartphone form factor, enabling tomorrow’s 5G smartphone to effectively become a satellite phone. The first tests will take place in an emulated space environment in France, where the majority of Europe’s space-focused industry is located.

Ericsson plans to verify the 5G virtual RAN (vRAN) layer, modified to handle radio signals propagating (what happens to 5G radio waves traveling through the vacuum of space and Earth’s atmosphere) through fast-moving LEO satellites.

Thales plans to verify 5G radio satellite payloads suitable for deployment on LEO satellites, while Qualcomm plans to provide test phones to verify that 5G NTN will be accessible from future 5G smartphones.

Experts will use ground-based equipment to simulate 5G radio propagation and the delays between an equipped satellite in orbit and the connection of a 5G smartphone with the 5G radio access network at various locations on the Earth’s surface.

Erik Ekudden adds: “While it is too early to say when a resulting 5G-equipped satellite prototype can be launched into orbit for actual operational use, the highly technical ground test and validation work planned between Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies is crucial for that. to happen.”

As a 3GPP-supported technology, non-terrestrial 5G networks will be able to leverage a large ecosystem of standardized products and components. The new specification also enables NTN technologies to be included in current 5G devices, allowing technology vendors to easily and quickly extend 5G NTN compatibility to all devices.

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