Smart, Omnispace explore space-based 5G tech
August 18, 2022
By Colin Mann
Philippine telco company PLDT’s wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) is collaborating with US-based mobile connectivity specialist Omnispace to explore and demonstrate the capabilities of space-based 5G communications using low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
“This collaboration with Omnispace will allow our companies to work together to define use cases for the Philippine market,” stated Arvin L. Siena, Head of PLDT’s Technology Strategy and Transformation Office, suggesting that possible use cases include enabling 5G connectivity in remote areas, incorporating IoT and sensors for use in monitoring weather disturbances and natural calamities, and augmenting network coverage for disaster relief, maritime and telematics for vessels and equipment.
“This is also part of PLDT’s broader initiatives to future-proof our services, including Smart 5G. This includes exploring opportunities to team up with companies like Omnispace, to test the interoperability of our network with their 3GPP-compliant 5G non-terrestrial network (NTN), which will support the 5G ecosystem of the future,” he added
Having launched Omnispace Spark-1 and Spark-2 in April and May 2022, respectively, the company recently completed the deployment phase of ‘Omnispace Spark’. This programme is the initial phase in the company’s development and delivery of what it says is the world’s first global 5G-capable satellite network.
The Omnispace 5G NTN global network will interconnect with terrestrial or land-based mobile networks to serve mobile subscribers utilising the company’s 2 GHz mobile satellite spectrum allocation and operating in 3GPP band n256.
Claiming to be the world’s first 3GPP-compliant 5G NTN system, the Omnispace network is expected to deliver the power of 5G directly to billions of devices everywhere, extending the reach of mobile connectivity to enable people and assets to communicate in real-time through a single, seamless global service.
“We are excited to announce this collaborative agreement with Smart Communications, which shares our vision of delivering reliable mobile connectivity to consumer, government and enterprise users, everywhere,” declared Brian Pemberton, Omnispace. “Together with Smart, we seek to bridge the digital divide, while also providing the communications infrastructure to power the development of the Filipino economy of the future.”
PLDT and Smart’s pioneering foray into satellite-powered communication is part of a broader initiative to deliver world-class customer services across the country, complementing the nationwide rollout of their fibre infrastructure, and wireless networks based on 4G and 5G technologies.