Ericsson, Thales, and Qualcomm will join forces to expand 5G networks to other parts of the globe. This will enable terrestrial repeaters to connect to satellites. This will enable the creation of non-terrestrial network (NTN), or “nonterrestrial” networks (5th generation), which will make it possible for smartphones to be used anywhere with 5G modems.
This will enable 5G to be used even in areas where satellites of the old type no longer work, such as the Far North and over the oceans. This approach will also allow for global roaming in important industries like energy, transport, and healthcare. This space network will also provide communications for government agencies, emergency and special services, and other agencies. In March 2022, the 3GPP organization approved the project.
While testing is currently only planned, the goal is to have all 5G smartphones become satellites in the future. France will host the testing. Each company will be responsible for its own segment.
Ericsson will be testing Virtual RAN (vRAN), technology that has been modified to support 5G. Thales will test satellite equipment using low-orbit satellites. Qualcomm will also provide smartphones for use in work. The ground equipment will be tested to see if it can overcome signal delays. It is not yet known when such a network will be commercially launched.
SpaceX launched a new constellation Starlink satellites into orbit in the meantime. 46 satellites were launched as part of this mission.