MediaTek, a global fabless semiconductor company will be demonstrating its innovative 3GPP Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) technology that brings two-way satellite communications to smartphones at MWC 2023. The first smartphones with MediaTek's satellite connectivity are also launching, with more devices to be unveiled in the coming months. Additionally, MediaTek will also be sharing a sneak peek of its next-generation 5G New Radio NTN (NR-NTN) technology for the next wave of satellite-enabled devices.
Satellite networks aim to fill gaps in mobile coverage, offering a reliable way for devices to communicate in remote locations. With satellite-enabled smartphones, consumers can stay in touch when they are hiking, driving in secluded areas, on a boat, or in other situations where there has traditionally been no connectivity; this will not only provide users with peace of mind, but also enable them to request assistance in emergency situations. Today the biggest market opportunity for 3GPP NTN technology is smartphones, although there is a growing demand for satellite connectivity in IoT applications such as agriculture, forestry, and logistics. The automotive industry will also be a major market for satellite communications technology in the coming years.
"Two-way satellite communications on smartphones and other devices will usher us into a new era of connectivity and open up new possibilities across many different verticals," said JC Hsu, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of MediaTek's wireless communications business unit. "Our standalone MT6825 chipsets, which are based on the 3GPP NTN open standard, can be integrated into any flagship smartphone to deliver a seamless satellite connectivity experience."
Over the coming years, MediaTek's satellite communications portfolio will target both IoT-NTN and NR-NTN technology based on the 3GPP 5G specification for Release 17 (R17). IoT-NTN is ideal for messaging since it is designed for low data rate connections, while NR-NTN allows for higher data rates that can support video calls and other applications. Since satellite networks can currently only support IoT-NTN on a mass scale, the initial wave of satellite-enabled smartphones and other devices powered by MediaTek will be designed for two-way satellite messaging services.
MediaTek is teaming up with Bullitt to bring the world's first commercially available devices with 3GPP NTN technology, utilizing the MT6825 chipset to connect to the Bullitt Satellite Connect platform. This includes the Motorola defy 2 and CAT S75 smartphones; and the Motorola defy satellite link, a compact and lightweight Bluetooth accessory that allows Android and iOS devices to connect to the Bullitt Satellite Connect platform. Bullitt Satellite Connect service will provide users with access to two-way satellite messaging, location sharing, and emergency SOS in more places around the world.
The forthcoming NR-NTN chipset from MediaTek will allow devices to support services with higher data rates like navigation and real-time communication. As satellite networks build capacity for NR-NTN over the coming years, this opens up exciting new consumer, enterprise, and industrial use cases as smartphones, IoT devices, and vehicles can take advantage of reliable connectivity everywhere.
To make it easy for brands to integrate two-way satellite communications into smartphones and other devices, MediaTek's IoT-NTN solutions are standalone chipsets that can be added to any 4G or 5G device. The chipsets utilize the open 3GPP R17 NTN standard, unlike competing solutions which are based on proprietary solutions. For OEMs, the advantage of the standard is that once a device has been certified for 3GPP R17 IoT-NTN it can be used on any IoT-NTN compliant network. Additionally, mobile network operators can partner with service providers to offer roaming services or establish their own satellite networks that support the standard.
In addition to the benefits of supporting 3GPP R17 NTN, MediaTek's MT6825 IoT-NTN chipset has a number of other features. MT6825 can connect to Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) constellations, which could be converted into 3GPP NTN-compliant network easily and are widely available now on the orbit. To provide a seamless experience, MT6825 allows devices to automatically receive messages from satellites, unlike competitive solutions that require users to manually check for messages. The chipset has low system requirements, is very power efficient to provide greater battery life, and comes in a highly integrated design that helps accelerate time to market.
For years MediaTek has been an active player in driving satellite connectivity innovation forward, serving as one of the main contributors to the 3GPP NTN specifications and working closely with other industry leaders to test and develop 5G NTN solutions.
MediaTek is exhibiting at MWC in Barcelona, Spain from Feb. 27 through March 2, 2023. Attendees can see MediaTek's satellite connectivity demos by visiting MediaTek's booth in Hall 3, Stand 3D10.
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