Oil fields off the east coast of South Africa and solar farms in the Sahara are just two examples of industries that can benefit from easy, affordable 5G connections for their industrial Internet of things. This is because three Telefónica divisions are working together to develop a connectivity service for the maritime industry that uses Dual 5G NB-IoT (narrow band internet of things) to provide coverage for both land and water. A new innovation to offer 5G from space could be advantageous for any industry that includes operations in remote locations, including farming, oil exploration, or green power generating.
The involved subsidiaries are Telefónica Tech, Telefónica Global Solutions (TGS), and satellite telecom provider Sateliot. Their goal is to develop a global satellite network for 5G NB-IoT connectivity using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations. LEO constellations orbit at a much lower altitude than conventional geostationary satellites, between 500 and 1,000 kilometres. Additionally, because the LEO complies with 3GPP standards, NB-IoT devices will be able to sync with both current terrestrial networks and the future satellite network.
Their jointly built network seamlessly combines Telefónica Tech’s managed IoT connectivity system Kite’s network nodes with the satellite network. Through a web portal or application programming interfaces, consumers can use this to remotely control and monitor their power lines in real time from anywhere in the globe.
The use of 5G and satellite together is growing in popularity. A prototype satellite called BlueWalker 3 will be launched by AST Spacemobile in August with the intention of evaluating direct cellular broadband connections with conventional mobile phones from orbit. The satellite’s construction cost AST SpaceMobile $85 million, and the company’s engineers have successfully completed over 800 ground tests with BlueWalker 3. Several telecoms players are attempting direct communication between satellites and subscribers. To enhance terrestrial connection, Thales, Ericsson, and Qualcomm are also working together on a satellite-driven 5G network.
The Telefónica Tech invention offers similar benefits for equipment continuity. It won’t require any new hardware beyond what is presently utilised for NB-IoT connectivity. It is anticipated that the industries that stand to gain the most from this new invention—which intends to assist any industry that needs coverage in remote areas—will include agricultural, shipping, wind farms, solar farms, and animals. Later this year, Telefónica Tech and TGS want to launch the first pre-commercial client pilots.