Towers and Satellite Fight for the 5G Wheel

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As development on connected cars continues to advance, a question arises. Which is better suited to drive – 5G transmitted via cell tower or satellite? The Japanese auto industry weighs both options, as reported by Tu-Auto.com.

An advantage to satellite 5G, according to telecommunications firm Kymeta, is that the reach of the satellite means no weak dropped call zones that would leave a connected car disconnected. The drawback is that satellite systems are not yet up to speed and are not likely to be ready for several years. 

François Ortolan, a wireless specialist at the connectivity company, Anritsu, explains:  “The problem is that the satellites in space right now are not flexible enough to be reconfigured. A new satellite from disrupters such as the OneWeb satellite constellation, Amazon, or SpaceX, possibly could be reconfigurable but satellites have even longer development cycles than SIM cards, so we cannot expect 5G over satellite within five years.” The plan to incorporate 3GPP data has already been pushed back to 2021, he noted, further delaying satellite readiness. 

The low frequency signals needed to operate connected cars work best when the source is close by, giving cell towers today’s edge. However Ortolan believes that satellite 5G is the way of the future. “Within five years, it will come. The ambition of 5G is to be the real convergence between all the technology, with WiFi, Bluetooth and satellite. Although, this was the aim with LTE, but as every organization has conflicting interests, it didn’t happen.”  

October 10, 2019

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