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ESA Pushes For Satellite-Based 5G Internet, Inks Deal With 16 Space Companies To Make It A Reality

23 June 2017, 11:12 pm EDT By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
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The European Space Agency (ESA) champions satellite-based 5G internet and has signed a deal with European space companies to make it happen. Find out the potential gains and challenges with this technology for internet connectivity.  ( George Frey | Getty Images )

The European Space Agency (ESA) has thrown its weight behind satellite-based 5G internet. In fact, ESA has partnered with 16 European space companies to champion the technology, and they’re all preparing for testing in the next couple of years.

The agreement over the partnership, dubbed “Satellite for 5G,” was signed at the recent Paris Air and Space Show.

Signing Up For 5G Internet Connection?

ESA and its partners in the European space industry will work as one to deploy satellites in different trials over the next couple of years. The goal is to convince providers on the supremacy of satellite-based 5G over terrestrial-based counterparts.

The trials will focus on selected targeted sectors, including “transport, media and entertainment, and public safety,” an ESA statement noted. Afterward, the group seeks to win support from the European Commission.

ESA Director of Telecommunications Magali Vaissiere stated that satellites can offer high-speed 5G connection even on remote islands and mountains, and users can reach first responders wherever they are on Earth.

“5G provides a major opportunity for our space industry, for space and satellites to become integral parts of the future generation of communications networks and services,” Vaissiere said following the signing of the agreement.

As Engadget noted, the joint agreement is still in very early phases and the signatories are yet to finalize the details of the tests they are planning to perform. But it’s expected that the public will hear more about the ambitious project at the “Space and Satcom for 5G: European Transport and Connected Mobility” conference to be held on June 27 to 28.

Potential Gains And Challenges

Gizmodo UK wrote that it’s quite unlikely for satellites to completely replace the current system of “huge masts dotted everywhere.”

The problem, particularly with data, is a signal heading to one’s phone from space takes a while to complete its journey. The latency results in issues, meaning some applications won’t work properly. As for download speed, the distance isn’t substantial, only the time found between requesting a file and the time one actually starts downloading.

Again, though, the technology may provide a lifeline to those in remote areas where there’s simply dismal coverage.

The 5G’s ultimate goal isn’t the network’s power and speed, and ultra-broadband is only part of what it can bring. It is being eyed to deliver new services, particularly when it comes to connecting objects, from smartphones and tablets to headsets VR and intelligent cars.

“We are trying to anticipate the future,” Vaissiere emphasized, adding that sectors such as the connected car may have a need for the 5G network.

Vaissiere said that ESA had long sought to unite the players to make the 5G a reality, taking leadership of the initiative.

In related developments, a team of Chinese scientists has recently succeeded in beating the record for quantum entanglement, beaming the entangled photons from 300 miles above Earth to separate places 750 miles apart.

The breakthrough is deemed useful in the urgent matter of tackling cyberattacks. In the face of internet connections’ current vulnerability to online attacks, quantum communication is seen promising in forging faster, more secure communication channels.

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