SES assesses direct-to-laptop 5G satellite business

TAMPA, Fla. — SES is considering plans to bring 5G services directly to handheld devices after rescuing spectrum rights for 62 proposed satellites that were set to expire.

The Luxembourg government submitted an application in 2015 to international regulators at the ITU for the constellation, dubbed Cleosat, but faced losing it until SES used at least one of its satellites to secure the frequencies on May 10, two days earlier. of the deadline.

Luxembourg had issued a call for proposals from companies interested in taking on the project on December 16 as its seven-year deadline approached, and chose SES earlier this year to operate Cleosat.

“SES requested this submission through the Lux government because we recognize the potential for direct-to-laptop 5G satellite connectivity in the years to come,” SES Vice President of External Communications Suzanne Ong said by email.

“We have not made any decisions to invest significantly in this technology at this stage, and in the coming months we will do our due diligence to assess the market and business plans.”

The company has not disclosed any further information about the plans and the Luxembourg government has not spoken in detail about what it has in store.

When Luxembourg called on companies seeking control of Cleosat’s regulatory filing in December, it said the services it envisions for the network are global and include mobile satellite services, fixed satellite services, and tracking and telecommand services.

The proposed Cleosat constellation uses multiple frequency bands from around 1.5 GHz to 29 GHz, covering 62 satellites in eight planes in non-geostationary orbits between 519 and 8,062 km.

SES’s O3b Networks constellation of 20 medium-Earth orbiting satellites operates 8,063 kilometers above the equator, using 17-19 GHz frequencies for high-speed broadband services primarily to business and government customers. The company also operates satellites in geostationary orbit for broadband and broadcasting.

It’s unclear if SES is looking at ways to bring connectivity to smartphones and consumer devices, similarly to businesses as satellite startups. AST SpaceMobile and Link Global are developing.

Satellite networks in general are poised to become more compatible with terrestrial wireless infrastructure as 3GPP, the mobile industry association, works to incorporate satellite frequencies into global 5G standards for the first time.

Satellite operators hope that these standardization efforts will mean that backhaul and other space-based capabilities can be more easily integrated into terrestrial networks, allowing them to capture a larger share of the telecommunications market.

Globalstar continues to face speculation that its satellites could be used to connect Apple iPhones for emergency services.

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