First 5G satellite network for IoT launching
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Ligado and Mavenir will deploy the first 5G satellite network for IoT (credit: Ligado)

US communications group Ligado Networks has announced plans to deploy what it claims will be the world’s first 5G mobile satellite network for the Internet of Things (IoT).

As part of the deployment, Ligado will partner with US network software provider Mavenir to develop advanced connectivity base stations which will “enable business-critical operations anywhere in North America”.

The duo’s new 5G satellite IoT network will reportedly support “tens of millions of mobile devices powering critical machine-to-machine communications for businesses” following an initial trial in 2022. The trial will focus on companies in the transport, agriculture, utilities and energy sectors using standalone satellite or multi-layer connections to build up the network.

Ligado plans to adapt its 3rd Generation Partnership Project technology for mobile satellite use in a move that will enable the new network to support devices using mainstream chipsets that can also operate on terrestrial IoT networks.

Combined with the 22-meter reflector-based antenna of Ligado’s SkyTerra 1 satellite, the network will also support small IoT device applications including vehicle diagnostics, environmental monitoring and smart metering. According to Ligado it will also add extended coverage to the company’s planned 5G mobile private network.

Ligado chief executive officer Doug Smith said: “Ubiquitous network coverage and reliability are especially essential for critical device communications, which makes our 5G satellite IoT network a pivotal tool to ensure always-on connectivity and data management for an enterprise’s entire fleet of devices.

“We are deeply committed to supporting critical infrastructure enterprises as they modernise their operations for a 21st century economy.”

For its part in the collaboration, Mavenir will use its 5G network technology including mobile core, and O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) for 5G to support Ligado to deliver 3GPP-based IoT services via the mobile satellite network layer.

Pardeep Kohli, president and CEO of Mavenir, said: “We are excited to work with Ligado on O-RAN-based 5G base station development. With this engagement, Mavenir and the O-RAN ecosystem not only strengthen their place in enterprise deployments but also enter a phase of innovation in cellular service delivery via non-terrestrial networks.

“We are looking forward to expanding our O-RAN product portfolio to meet the evolving needs of terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks and their co-existence in the future.”

Earlier this year, Mavenir announced plans to expand its development of O-RAN software and systems in the UK with the opening of a new development centre for O-RAN Radio software in Swindon.

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