Inmarsat has tested one of its satellites for internet of things (IoT) communications using the 5G mobile network standard
In trials, it pushed the boundaries of satellite communications to enable machine-to-machine (M2M) communications for remote system monitoring and control.
It conducted field trials with semiconductor company MediaTek to establish 5G standards for IoT over its Alphasat L-band satellite. This established a bi-directional link with MediaTek’s narrowband NB-IoT device over the geostationary orbit satellite.
Inmarsat said this “broke new ground for truly global IoT coverage” to build “the foundation for hybrid satellite and cellular networks to enable new ubiquitous 5G IoT services at global scale.”
Results of this field trial will contribute to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project’s Rel-17 standardisation work for a non-terrestrial network, which is part of its overarching initiative to towards new use cases and services.
“Testing MediaTek’s standard NB-IoT chip over Inmarsat’s established geostationary satellite network has proven technology from mobile networks works effectively over these satellites with little modification and will provide a very cost-effective path to ubiquitous and hybrid global IoT coverage,” said Inmarsat Product Group senior director Jonathan Beavon.
This test opens the market potential of using a single device to connect to both satellite and cellular networks.
MediaTek and Inmarsat 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 and established a communications channel for data transfer with the Alphasat satellite.
MediaTek general manager for communications system design Ho-Chi Hwang said its collaboration with Inmarsat “will accelerate industry efforts to converge cellular and satellite networks in the 5G era”.
This ongoing work “will help drive 5G innovation across verticals like IoT,” he said.
Shipping companies can benefit from using hybrid 5G and satellite communications for IoT and other applications such as remote monitoring and video conferencing.
These applications and 5G technology were discussed in depth by Inmarsat, Vodafone, P&O Maritime Logistics and ST Engineering iDirect during Riviera’s Maritime Communications Webinar Week, which was held 20-23 July.