A rocket carrying CubeSats launched into Earth orbit two years ago, on 22 March 2021. Two of those CubeSats represented competing approaches to bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) to space. One, operated by Lacuna Space, uses a protocol called LoRaWAN, a long-range, low-power protocol owned by Semtech. The other, owned by Sateliot, uses the narrowband IoT protocol, following in the footsteps of OQ Technology, which launched a similar IoT satellite demonstration in 2019. And separately, in late 2022, the cellular industry standard-setter 3GPP incorporated satellite-based 5G into standard cellular service with its release 17.
In other words, there is now an IoT space race.
Continue reading CubeSat Operators Launch an IoT Space Race
IN 2023, YOU OR someone you know will be able to send a text message through space. Late in 2022, hardware behemoths Huawei and Applereleased cellular telephones capable of texting on traditional satellite-communications networks. A pair of ambitious startups, AST SpaceMobile and Lynk Global, also started building new low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite networksdesigned to reach conventional 5G cellphones outside terrestrial coverage.
“Offering direct satellite access to smartphones without modifications would allow access to billions of devices worldwide,” says Symeon Chatzinotas, the head of the University of Luxembourg’s SigCom research group.
Continue reading No More ‘No Service.’
The race to deliver cellular calls from space passes two milestones this month and saw one major announcement last month. First, Apple will offer emergency satellite messaging on two of its latest iPhone models, the company announced on Wednesday. Second, AST SpaceMobile plans a launch on Saturday, 10 September, of an experimental satellite to test full-fledged satellite 5G service. In addition, T-Mobile USA and SpaceX intend to offer their own messaging and limited data service via the second generation of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, as the two companies announced on 25 August.
Continue reading Apple Kicks Off the Cell-Calls-From-Space Race
The orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab has transmitted quantum-encryption keys to four ground stations, researchers reported on 18 August. The same network of ground stations is also able to receive quantum keys from the orbiting Micius satellite, which is in a much higher orbit, using the space station as a repeater. It comes just after the late July launch of Jinan 1, China’s second quantum-encrypting satellite, by the University of Science and Technology of China. USTC told the Xinhua News Agency that the new satellite is one-sixth the mass of its 2016 predecessor.
Continue reading As China’s Quantum-Encrypting Satellites Shrink, Their Networking Abilities Grow
“The launch is significant,” says physicist Paul Kwiat of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, because it means the team are starting to build, not just plan, a quantum network. USTC researchers did not reply to IEEE Spectrum’s request for comments.