The Satellite-Based 5G Game May Get a Surprising New Player




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Defense contractor Lockheed Martin is the latest company looking to get into the burgeoning area of satellite-based internet service.

Earlier this week, the company showed off a demo of its “Advanced 5G Non-Terrestrial Network Satellite Base Station,” which it calls 5G.MIL. It said it plans to launch the 5G.MIL payload to orbit next year.

Lockheed Martin is the latest player to invest in utilizing satellites to offer 5G cellular coverage. But unlike companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and SpaceX, the 5G.MIL system is designed to bring secure 5G communications to the military.

The the other difference is the base station will include all of the equipment, from the radio to the radio access network and core, in order to run by itself, vs. other systems that rely on a lot of the other networking functions to still happen on the ground. This allows the setup to bypass ground-based networks completely, making it more secure and reducing any potential lag time.

The ultimate goal, however, remains the same as the consumer options: to provide broader coverage all over the world and eliminating dead spots found in ground-based networks, which are limited by where towers and cell sites are located.

“5G from space will enable Joint All-Domain Command and Control operations especially in austere environments, remote locations and contested areas,” said Joe Rickers, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for connectivity, transport and access. “Our Satellite Base Station is real, operational hardware and we’re excited for the next step — integrating this powerful payload into our self-funded Tactical Satellite which we’ll launch next year.”

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

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