IMC Newsdesk

MediaTek and Inmarsat make 5G satellite IoT data connection

  • August 27, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

A field trial of 5G satellite communications has successfully transferred data with MediaTek’s satellite-enabled NB-IoT chipset through Inmarsat’s Alphasat L-band satellite, in geostationary orbit (GEO) 35,000km above the equator.
 
This test builds the foundation for hybrid satellite and cellular networks that will enable 5G IoT services globally and could provide proof of the possibility to use a single device to connect both satellite and cellular networks.
 
By doing so, industries that need to operate in remote locations or within solid infrastructures, such as oil and gas, construction, transport, and logistics, can benefit from seamless in-building connectivity and take advantage of IoT and automation in other industries.
 
Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek’s satellite-enabled NB-IoT standard chipset was tested with the base station at Fucino Space Center in Italy using Inmarsat’s Alphasat GEO satellite.
 
The results of the field test will be contributed to the 3GPP’s release-17 standardisation work on non-terrestrial networks, which is part of its overarching initiative to establish 5G standards on new use cases and services.
 
The 5G satellite NB-IoT technology established a bi-directional link from MediaTek’s satellite-enabled standard NB-IoT device to a commercial GEO satellite. The successful test builds the foundation for hybrid satellite and cellular networks to enable ubiquitous 5G IoT services at a global scale.
 
“MediaTek’s collaboration with Inmarsat will accelerate industry efforts to converge cellular and satellite networks in the 5G era,” said Ho-Chi Hwang, MediaTek general manager of communication system design. “MediaTek is a leading connectivity provider and contributor to 3GPP standards, and our on-going work with Inmarsat GEO satellites will help drive 5G innovation across verticals like IoT.”
 
MediaTek is the world’s fourth largest fabless semiconductor company and Inmarsat specialises in global, mobile satellite communications. The two companies ran the test with a base station at the Fucino Space Center in Italy and developed by Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry (III). The test device, built with MediaTek’s satellite-enabled NB-IoT chipset, was located in northern Italy. The prototype system successfully established a communication channel and data transfer with the GEO satellite.
 
The successful test could provide proof as to the feasibility of 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 at Inmarsat.
 
MediaTek develops systems-on-chip for mobile devices, home entertainment, connectivity and IoT products.