The European Space Agency (ESA) and Deutsche Telekom agreed in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed at Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona to work together on the hybrid networks of the future. They plan to jointly work to enable seamless connectivity from terrestrial networks, from the sky or from above. Their plan: more resilient and secure connectivity solutions to answer future communication needs. It is especially important in the event of possible disruption to parts of the network technology on the ground. In such a case a non-terrestrial network from satellites or from the stratosphere could be used to seamlessly maintain contact with the smartphones of the affected people. Or from rescue teams on the ground, taking over from the conventional ground infrastructure that has been affected by a disaster.
“We have a clear ambition: to bring connectivity to everyone at any time and anyplace. Connection alternatives, such as satellites, play a crucial role in complementing our terrestrial network to ensure service continuity. The collaboration with ESA is an important step in laying the technological foundations for a strengthened network resilience based on the combination of terrestrial and satellite communications. This will improve the accessibility of our network for anyone who needs to stay connected,” said Claudia Nemat, Member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management responsible for Technology and Innovation.
Javier Benedicto, acting ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, said: “ESA supports the future of connectivity where satellites are integrated with terrestrial technologies to provide ubiquitous, seamless and secure connectivity for all. We are delighted to have formed a partnership with Deutsche Telekom to advance relevant technologies in this field. ESA supports European and Canadian industries to foster innovation and compete globally.”
Non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) are communications networks with components in space and in the air. These include antenna platforms in the stratosphere, known as HAPS. These can be free-floating high-altitude balloons, airships or powered gliders that can even run on solar energy and hydrogen power. In space, on the other hand, it is satellites, such as the Intelsat-38 used in the trial. To integrate these new forms of networks into existing networks, these disparate communications technologies must be orchestrated. They thus become multi-dimensional networks, with seamless switch across different layers spanning the space, the sky and the earth, is the ultimate ambition of Deutsche Telekom with this partnership.
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