Here's how MediaTek is leading the industry in 5G satellite connectivity

Mar 2, 2023

Mobile cellular networks today cover over 60% of the world's population, but less than 12% of the planet. The combination of terrestrial cellular networks and satellite – or ‘Non-Terrestrial Networks’ (NTN), will herald in the next generation of connectivity, greatly broadening the reach of devices, keeping everyone in touch. The groundwork for this technology is being laid in the latest 3GPP Release 17 standard, with 5G satellite services expected to begin through this year and grow onwards in the 5G Advanced era.

MediaTek is the proponent and project leader of 3GPP NTN standardization, which supports creating an open NTN ecosystem that will benefit the greatest number of people.

5G NTN includes two levels of connectivity: IoT-NTN and NR-NTN. IoT-NTN is designed for short-burst, low data-rate connections such as messaging or non-real-time data. It is ideal for messaging and location services, agriculture, forestry, transportation, logistics and other operations in remote areas, where IoT-NTN adds a layer beyond cellular to reach areas outside of terrestrial cellular coverage.

NR-NTN is getting ready to fill the remaining cellular coverage gap with faster data rates that let users make calls and use apps. It aims to deliver service to sparsely populated regions and across oceans, where it provides essential services like navigation and real-time communications.

A necessary condition of all NTN is that access poses no additional hardware or operational burden to end users. It should exist and operate seamlessly in mainstream mass-market devices, such as smartphones, tablets and Mi-Fi devices, and be part of a normal cellular subscription. By sharing the same protocol stack, modems can eventually integrate both terrestrial and satellite technologies into a single, complete 5G solution capable of seamlessly switching between earth-bound and space networks in the same device.

While other companies are pursuing pre-5G era or proprietary satellite connectivity, MediaTek has become the main driver of 3GPP standards-based 5G NTN, leading the industry with its first-to-market 5G NTN solutions that will soon find their way into the hands of users globally.

MediaTek 5G NTN Timeline:

August 2022: MediaTek collaborated with Rohde & Schwarz and ITRI to demonstrate the world’s first successful test of 5G NR-NTN connectivity.

January 2023 (CES): Bullitt Group demonstrates its forthcoming satellite messaging service and the world's first smartphone with two-way messaging via 5G NTN connection, powered by MediaTek.

March 2023 (MWC): MediaTek demonstrates an industry-first live 5G NR-NTN connection using a smartphone device powered by a MediaTek 5G modem with NR-NTN capability. Key to the achievement, the MediaTek 5G NR-NTN solution meets 3GPP release 17 spectrum-defined functionalities.

March 2023 (MWC): motorola announces a rugged 5G smartphone and Bluetooth MiFi accessories with 5G NTN capabilities.

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