5G Narrowband-IoT Everywhere

The predicted 5G expansion might also lead to overcrowding in the radio frequency spectrum, and regulators need to free up frequencies from GEO...
operations were conducted to verify the performance of the satellite’s payload. Also tested and calibrated were terminals in different fixed and mobile environments in the desert and for indoor usage. Even when buried in the desert sand, required for many agricultural applications, or moving at high speed inside a car (without having a direct line of sight to the sky), the terminal was sending signals and its GPS location to the satellite. This ensures accurate tracking and monitoring as assets transit between connections. It transforms the visibility of global freight assets on land and at sea.

A second important step en route to commercial services was a real-life pilot test for connecting remote assets such as pipelines and smart meters. The trial was done in collaboration with the Saudi Communication, Space, and Technology Commission (CST), the oil and gas company Saudi Aramco, and the Saudi Ministry of Energy. It was conducted in one of Aramco’s remote sites, located in the Ain Dar area in Saudi Arabia.

For the trial, gas and temperature sensors from a remote oil wellhead and pipelines were connected to the Tiger-2 satellite. The terminal gathered temperature, humidity, CO2, and GPS readings every two hours and stored the data until the next satellite pass. The satellite can also store the data until it sends it—using NB-IoT technology—to the next ground station.

The setup minimizes the need for human intervention wherever possible and provides the latest data to safeguard the business case. A field sensor sent its data via Bluetooth to a tech terminal, which forwarded the sensed data to the corresponding satellite and down to the ground network station. From there, the data passed on to the cloud-based dashboard.

Measuring transmission speeds showed an ultra-high reliability connection with all the transmitted data successfully received and decoded. Also, to relay billing and power consumption data, indoor electricity smart meters were connected.

The result of both successful trials turned OQ Technology into the world’s first satellite telecom operator for global IoT connectivity using 5G protocol to provide connectivity anywhere. As a result, the company was also able to sign the first commercial customer contract in the world for using a constellation of LEO satellites to provide 5G coverage for IoT devices based on NB-IoT. 

The tests also allowed the company to introduce the world’s first secure private network providing 5G connectivity for IoT devices based on standardized 3GPP cellular technology for narrowband-IoT. Together with its other satellites in orbit, including Tiger-3 launched in April 2022, the company was able to close the gap for latency critical applications and provide high data density, quality of service, and fast response times.

The future of 5G SatIoT

The results and new services give a first glimpse of the revolutionary future 5G can provide. Over the next decade, 5G and other technologies with upgraded standards will expand their coverage as networks grow.

PWC estimates that $330 billion will be added to global GDP by 5G applications in smart utilities management by 2030. And McKinsey reckons that the agriculture industry could add $500 billion to the global GDP by 2030.

The predicted 5G expansion might also lead to overcrowding in the radio frequency spectrum, and regulators need to free up frequencies from GEO operators that have been sitting on these signals and doing nothing with it for a long time.

While today the data transmission from sensors to the dashboard is one directional, the technology can replicate the function of wired systems for sending commands back to various assets in real-time. This would enable a whole new range of use cases for industrial automation, especially when combined with AI. For example, farmers could direct silos to release food or manage irrigation systems, or oil and gas enterprises could use drones, cranes, and robots remotely. This would reduce or eliminate the need for expensive human interaction, boost efficiency, and increase the safety level of workers.

With the adoption of the technology, enough available spectrum, and more satellites and constellations being launched, 5G at its peak has the potential to be instrumental in developing revolutionary applications and enormous benefits across multiple industries, unlike anything that exists today outside a wired environment.


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