Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales want to launch 5G in space

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

The results could clearly mean that a future 5G smartphone will be able to use a 5G connection anywhere in the world and provide full global coverage for broadband data services, including areas that are normally only covered by the system. Legacy satellite telephony companies with limited connection capacity

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

Such widespread connectivity will strengthen roaming service capabilities for customers equipped with 5G smartphones and enable global connectivity in 5G applications in transportation, energy and healthcare.

Satellite networks can also serve as a backup solution to terrestrial networks in case of major disasters or catastrophes.

As national government communication may be a major use case, the security features of non-terrestrial 5G networks are expected, especially to strengthen the security and resilience of government networks (national security and public safety).

Eric Ekuden, Ericsson’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, 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 will be able to accurately convey that no matter where you are in the world – In the middle of an ocean or in the most remote forest – 5G will provide high-end, secure and cost-effective connectivity through cooperative satellite and terrestrial connectivity.”

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

“To deliver on 5G’s promise of ubiquitous connectivity, it is essential that it can provide network coverage in areas where cellular network terrestrial technology does not exist. Over oceans or in more remote areas,” said John Smee, senior vice president of engineering at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Our research with Ericsson and Thales marks an important step toward making this vital technology a reality. We look forward to seeing what this collaboration can accomplish.”

Philippe Carrier, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Research and Technology, Thales, said: “The deployment of 5G networks marks a game-changing moment for the telecommunications industry. It’s a game-changer, not just in terms of commercial opportunities but also. Billions of people and whatnot.” In terms of the expertise required to connect and secure it. Thales Group is deeply involved in this through various activities. Our research collaboration with Ericsson and Qualcomm will demonstrate our companies’ strong belief that non-terrestrial 5G networks will contribute to this revolution and further advance network resilience and security. 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, to support the first non-terrestrial networks.

The purpose of the test will be to verify the various technical components required to deploy a 5G non-terrestrial network, including: a 5G smartphone, a satellite payload and 5G network components on the ground.

The goal of this work is that non-terrestrial 5G networks can be supported in a smartphone form factor that allows tomorrow’s 5G smartphone to effectively become a satellite phone. The first tests will take place in a simulated space environment in France, where most of Europe’s space-centric industry is located.

Ericsson plans to test the 5G virtual RAN (vRAN) layer, which has been modified to process radio signals (what will be 5G radio waves that travel through the vacuum of space and Earth’s atmosphere) moving quickly through LEO satellites.

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

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

Eric Ekuden added: “While it is too early to say when any 5G-equipped satellite prototypes may be launched into orbit for actual operational use, the highly technical ground test and validation work planned between Ericsson, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies is essential for this to happen. .”

As a 3GPP-supported technology, non-terrestrial 5G networks will be able to capitalize on a large ecosystem of standardized products and components. The new specification allows NTN technology to be incorporated into existing 5G devices, giving technology vendors the ability to easily and quickly extend 5G NTN compatibility to all devices.

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