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10 May 2022

Round-up of highlights from the week’s news 

AST SpaceMobile to launch space-based cellular network this year 

AST SpaceMobile has been given an experimental licence from the FCC to test its BlueWalker 3 satellite, aiming to deploy a space-based cellular broadband network compatible with standard smartphones.  


The FCC licence grants AST permission to test the satellite, but not yet to operate commercially as a carrier. If the test is successful though, AST will go online initially with just 20 satellites, expanding to a full complement of 110 during the rest of 2022 and 2023 to provide global broadband coverage.  


CEO and chairman Abel Avellan described BlueWalker 3 as a “693-square-foot phased array designed to communicate directly with unmodified mobile phones from low earth orbit”.  



Japanese and European groups join forces to look beyond 5G 

Japan’s Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium (B5PC) and Europe’s 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA)have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate on future wireless networks.  


The B5PC has been promoting Japanese Beyond 5G/6G approaches and been actively working on collaboration with countries and organizations outside Japan.  


At the same time, the 6G-IA represents the European industry in next generation networks and services, with the primary objective of promoting the continent’s role in beyond-5G and 6G research, as well as full 5G deployment in the shorter term. 


The 6G-IA carries out activities in strategic areas including standardization, frequency spectrum, R&D projects, technology skills, collaboration with key vertical industry sectors over trials, and international cooperation. 


Nokia demonstrates 5G carrier aggregation with Samsung and Optus 

Nokia, in combination with Samsung and Australian operator Optus, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Singtel, has completed a data session using three-component-carrier (3CC) carrier aggregation (CA) technology over a 5G Standalone (SA) network.  


The demonstration took place in the Optus commercial network in Australia, using Nokia’s AirScale Baseband and radio portfolio driven by its Reefshark chipset over three sub-6 GHz midbands, combining the 2.1 GHz FDD spectrum with the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz TDD bands. 


5G carrier aggregation allows compatible 5G smartphones to receive multiple 5G frequency bands in parallel, enabling higher data rates, increased coverage and extra network capacity, while maximizing spectral efficiency.