In a world first for IoT 5G satellite communications. MediTek has conducted a successful field trial that transfers data through Inmarsat’s Alphasat L-band satellite, in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) 35,000km above the equator.

The results of the IoT field test will be contributed to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)’s Rel-17 standardisation work on Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN), which is part of its overarching initiative to establish 5G standards toward new use cases and services.

The 5G satellite NB-IoT technology was able to establish a bi-directional link from MediaTek’s satellite-enabled standard NB-IoT device to a commercial GEO satellite, breaking new ground for a truly global IoT coverage. The successful test builds the foundation for hybrid satellite and cellular networks to enable new ubiquitous 5G IoT services at a global scale.

“MediaTek’s collaboration with Inmarsat will accelerate industry efforts to converge cellular and satellite networks in the 5G era. MediaTek is a leading connectivity provider and contributor to 3GPP standards, and our ongoing work with Inmarsat GEO satellites will help drive 5G innovation across verticals like IoT,” said Dr. Ho-Chi Hwang, MediaTek General Manager of Communication System Design.

MediaTek is the world’s 4th largest fabless semiconductor company and Inmarsat, a leader in global, mobile satellite communications, ran the test with a base station located at the Fucino Space Center in Italy and developed by Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry (III). The test device, built with MediaTek’s satellite-enabled NB-IoT chipset, was located in Northern Italy. The prototype system successfully established a communication channel and data transfer with the GEO satellite ‘Alphasat’.

The successful test could provide proof as to the feasibility of new global standards and open market potential of using a single device for connecting both satellite and cellular networks.

“Testing MediaTek’s standard NB-IoT chip over Inmarsat’s established GEO satellite network has proven technology from mobile networks works effectively over GEO satellites with little modification and will provide a very cost effective path to ubiquitous and hybrid global IoT coverage,” said Jonathan Beavon, Senior Director, Inmarsat Product Group.