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Nokia set to roll out 4G on the moon

News has emerged that Nokia has been selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon.

The announcement forms part of the space agency's plans to return humans to the moon and establish lunar settlements. NASA is aiming to have humans back on the moon by 2024 and then plans to establish a long-term presence there under its Artemis programme.

According to Nokia, the first wireless broadband communications system in space is to be built on the lunar surface in late 2022, before anyone lands.

In order to support a human presence on the moon, NASA wants reliable cellular coverage to be in place, and to that end has provided Nokia with what seems like quite a small amount of funding - just $14m - to build out a 4G LTE cellular network - admittedly it's part of a much bigger funding programme just announced by the space agency.

Apart from the kudos associated with the announcement, NASA is doing this for a very good reason. It wants to be able to communicate from a lunar base with astronauts who will be out exploring its surface, as well as to communicate with spacecraft.

Accordingly, the funding from NASA will be used by Nokia to see how terrestrial technology could be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable, high-rate communications.

Nokia Bell Labs’ has said that by late 2022, it will have built and deployed the first ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution that will self-configure upon deployment on the lunar surface.

But it appears that NASA doesn't want to stop at 4G, it's made it clear that it wants to eventually upgrade its 4G network to 5G!

Neil Tyler

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