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First 5G end-to-end link recorded at ESA 5G hub using OneWeb constellation

Technology partners achieve first-of-its-kind 5G full end-to-end link through a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.

Harwell, UK, June 28, 2022 – OneWeb, together with the European Space Agency (ESA), SatixFy, and CGI, achieved a significant milestone after successfully demonstrating a high-speed, low-latency full 5G end-to-end link with OneWeb’s LEO satellite constellation and the 5G/6G Hub at ESA / ECSAT’s Harwell centre.  

Under the Sunrise Partnership Project, with support from the UK Space Agency, ESA and OneWeb have partnered with antenna technology provider SatixFy UK and 5G services provider CGI to develop its electronically steered arrays into the 5G user terminal, offering an extremely compact solution for mobility services.

The Sunrise Partnership Project collaboration achieved a breakthrough performance on OneWeb’s LEO network.  This new super compact user terminal will undergo further testing to explore its full capabilities with LEO and GEO links for mobility services. After these tests are completed, the user terminal will be “fine-tuned’ and optimised for different mobility use cases, targeting a low cost and effective system to provide OneWeb commercial services for land, maritime, and aviation markets. 

The demonstration on June 28 involved a super compact satellite terminal mounted on a car, embarking a 5G Radio Access Network and connecting to 5G user devices. The terminal pioneered a state-of-the-art DVB-S2X modem based on SatixFy ASIC with high throughput. It was the world’s first 5G backhaul communications with an electronic steerable antenna connected to LEO satellites.

The user terminal antenna was also used to link simultaneously to a GEO satellite at an altitude of 36000 km, and OneWeb LEO satellites orbiting at 1,200 km (a thirtieth of the distance), with multiple simultaneous beams and electronic tracking. Live video and audio streaming took place from a GEO satellite, with 4K UHDTV videos being played. 

This 5G end-to-end link validates not only the communication over OneWeb’s satellites: it also successfully demonstrates the full integration of space and ground networks using 5G links, with low latency and very high speed and quality performance.

Elodie Viau, ESA Telecom Director, said: “This test is the first of its kind, and is a real team collaboration by ESA, OneWeb, CGI and SatixFy. It connected the ESA 5G/6G Hub at ESA/ ECSAT Harwell site through OneWeb satellites, using the super flat and advanced antenna made by SatixFy UK for mobility services. Through the Sunrise Partnership Project we aim to show that 5G high quality and speed connectivity is now a reality, to the benefit of everybody, every day, and everywhere.” 

Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb CTO, said: “At OneWeb, our approach to delivering connectivity is through collaboration with world-class industry partners who share our vision of a truly connected world. We’re therefore delighted to partner with Satixfy and CGI on this UK and European Space Agency funded research program. We are working together to connect those hardest to reach with new Space-based LEO connectivity. The ground-breaking Satixfy electronically steered array antenna technology will, once in commercial production, enable mobility customers such as airlines, train operators, and coach companies to leverage the power not only of the OneWeb LEO network, but also terrestrial 5G and legacy GEO satellite networks. A hybrid, multi-beam, multi constellation solution that ensures that passengers remain connected no matter where they are – be it mid-air, mid-ocean or in the most remote corners of the world.”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is a world first which demonstrates the vital role that space can play in improving connectivity and the value that companies like OneWeb and Satixfy bring to the UK. The results of this trial will help transform how satellite and terrestrial networks interact, accelerating the development of technologies such as connected vehicles and autonomous cars. It is a great example of why we're supporting ESA's state-of-the-art 5G/6G hub in Harwell, which will create new commercial opportunities and catalyse investment into the UK's thriving space sector.” 

Simona Gat, Satixfy UK CEO, said: “I’m proud of this important milestone achieved by the whole SatixFy team, who cooperated together with our partners from OneWeb and CGI, with great support from the UK Space Agency and ESA.”

Jaime Reed, CGI VP Space Data Platforms and Applications, said: “CGI is pleased to build on our long relationship with OneWeb and ESA to demonstrate how seamless 5G mobile services can be delivered over satellite constellations. This is an important step to enable everyone to have easy-to-use connectivity everywhere and allow businesses to take advantage of deployed private 5G networks to improve productivity.”
 

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