OQ Technology Successfully Tests 5G NB-IoT Nanosatellite

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5G technology, which is being integrated into broadband cellular communications over nanosatellites, is also being introduced into narrowband IoT over the same low earth orbit satellites. The result, if successful, has the potential of providing access to massive machine-to-machine communications in every remote corner of the world, according to analysts.

The field has two pioneers so far. Nanosatellite operator OQ Technology, based in Luxembourg, has successfully completed the in-orbit commissioning of its 5G narrowband IoT service using its Tiger-2 nanosatellite, and is ready to commence customer demonstrations. It joins Barcelona-based Sateliot, which completed its in-orbit 5G NB-IoT nanosatellite demonstration in July.

During tests, OQ was able to send the terminal’s GPS location to the satellite from inside a fast-moving car without having a direct line-of-sight to the sky. Even when buried in the desert sand, the terminal was still sending signals to the satellite.

OQ said it is in talks with several potential customers interested in using the company’s satellite-based 5G IoT services and will start commercial services for “latency-tolerant” low-power devices this beginning next year. OQ’s first nanosatellite was launched on June 30 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. More nanosatellites will be launched in early 2022, according to Omar Qaise, founder and CEO of OQ Technology, to create a constellation that will eventually reach 72 birds providing 5G narrowband-IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

OQ’s plan is to provide ubiquitous cellular connectivity roaming between terrestrial, LEO and GEO networks. Compatible with NB-IoT, the radio’s air link is standardized in 3GPP Release 13 and is considered for 5G massive machine communication. OQ uses licensed frequency bands that are compatible with mobile bands so cellular device radio can work on our satellites with no modification. To deliver widespread coverage and 5G IoT/M2M communication, and in line with 3GPP recommendations, OQ Technology is using spectrum in the mid band 5G (Sub-6 GHz) frequency bands.

“Our future vision is to make every cellular device speak the same language as satellites and to help mobile operators extend their 5G massive communications beyond cities into rural and remote areas, globally, through space,” Qaise said.

OQ plans to offer an end-to-end satellite 5G integrated communications that allows the monitoring of assets and fleets in real time, anywhere in the world. It is also designed to support bi-directional communication to machines in poor connectivity areas. OQ’s hybrid satellite-cellular terminal can connect to 1,000 sensors using multiple I/Os. It supports multiple SIMs and can be powered with a battery that survives multiple years.

OQ plans to replace the expensive satellite VSAT and M2M high-end terminals used by the maritime industry. The company also wants to monitor crop yield for farmers with the help of sensors (light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture). The list of supervisory control and data acquisition services that it can provide energy companies includes: pipeline monitoring and leak detection, predictive maintenance reports of machinery and windmills, inventory and asset tracking and environmental monitoring.

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