Sep 28, 2020

The future of 5G in zero G(ravity)

Harry Menear
3 min
Space companies are investing huge amounts of money into infrastructure to deliver 5G satellite internet
Space companies are investing huge amounts of money into infrastructure to deliver 5G satellite internet...

The global 5G rollout is spreading across the face of the Earth faster than a spilled cup of coffee across your favourite set of sheets. Today, there are more than 75 active commercial 5G launches, covering around 5% of the world’s population. By 2025, 5G has the potential to cover up to 65% of the world’s population, wrapping most of us in a warm, fuzzy blanket of low-latency streaming and blisteringly fast download speeds. 

However, that still leaves 45% of the global population (around 4bn people) without access to high speed internet. As the global pandemic and an increasingly digitalised business landscape continue to increase the demand for connectivity, the challenge of bringing high speed internet to underserved areas is only becoming more apparent. 

However, 5G isn’t just spreading across the Earth’s surface. Increasingly, communications companies are investing in the crusade to bring 5G to the final frontier: Space! (please click this link, it’s the best video on the whole internet, I promise). 

For years, the satellite communications industry has existed in a somewhat separate sphere from mobile communications, content to handle secure communications for the military - not to mention the occasional pee-swigging outdoor rambler. 

In many parts of the world, the demand for 5G is outstripping the ability to build infrastructure to meet that demand. In particular, sparsely populated areas, or those in developing nations without established fiber infrastructure, are being left in the lurch. 

With the advent of 5G, however, this all looks set to change. 

A new, highly privatised space race has begun, as companies like SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb are scrambling to launch their own networks of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to support next generation communications. 

Amazon’s Project Kuiper plans to throw up a network comprising 3,236 small satellites to provide underserved customers with low-latency broadband services. 

SpaceX wants to launch 30,000 small LEO satellites as part of its Starlink network to provide global satellite internet coverage. Currently, there are a mere 300 in orbit (around 1% of the intended payload for you eagle-eyed math aficionados), and they’re already causing a nuisance for everyone from astronomers to the ISS

London-based space communications firm OneWeb is trying something a little more modest, launching a few dozen small satellites at a time, with plans to begin offering corporate and government services in 2021. 

Given the fact that 5G coverage has so far been mostly limited to population hubs - mostly rich ones with a developed tech economy - the ability to deliver high speed broadband to the less well-served parts of the world could be an important step in delivering a more connected world. 

According to a recent report by Research and Markets, “The 5G satellite communication market is expected to witness a high growth, owing to the increase in the number of communication satellite constellations for the support of 5G systems across the globe. Furthermore, the emergence of 5G satellite communication services for IoT is expected to gradually increase the demand for 5G satellite communication across the world.

In addition, the increasing demand for satellites for different business verticals and the need to resolve the bandwidth problem in the current network are some of the major factors expected to create lucrative opportunities for the global 5G satellite communication market in the coming 10 years.”

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Jun 18, 2021

Nokia inks exclusive 5G deal with Telia-Telenor JV

2 min
A joint venture between Danish telecom carriers Telenor and Telia has selected Nokia as its exclusive 5G RAN supplier. 

A joint venture between Danish telecom carriers Telia and Telenor has selected Nokia as its exclusive supplier of 5G RAN equipment. 

The announcement follows the Danish government’s decision to make the 3.5 GHz spectrum of the country’s 5G bandwidth available for commercial use. At a national spectrum auction earlier this year, the joint venture purchased 140 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. 60MHz of the spectrum purchased by the Telia-Telenor joint venture carried the obligation to rent frequencies to public institutions and businesses looking to roll out private 5G networks. 

The joint venture also acquired spectrum from the 1500 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 26 GHz band airwaves, spending approximately $118mn. 

Following the spectrum acquisition, Nokia will work with the joint venture to roll out improved 5G across Denmark’s four largest cities before expanding to cover most Danish customers during 2022. Lars Thomsen, CEO of Telenor Denmark, commented that “As with everything else we do, our rollout is based on how we create the most real value for our customers.” He also noted that, with the initial expansion throughout Denmark’s four largest cities, followed by a sustained rollout into less densely populated areas throughout the coming year, “Danes will experience higher speeds and better coverage in both urban and peri-urban areas.”

Nokia will provide products from its ReefShark SoC (System on Chip) based AirScale 5G RAN portfolio, including 5G Massive MIMO antennas, to boost 5G coverage and performance for the joint venture’s individual and enterprise customers (per the auction agreement about enterprise 5G services earlier this year). 

Thomas Kjærsgaard, CEO of Telia Denmark, called the modernisation efforts supported by Nokia, a “significant investment in and upgrade of the vital Danish telecoms infrastructure,” adding that “A strong network is the foundation for our continued work to support the digitalisation of Denmark, the development of our economy, innovation, and sustainable solutions for the future."


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