Not keen on a 5G mast in your street? At least it'd be harder for crackpots to burn down 'a flying cell tower in orbit'

Another satellite constellation prepares for launch, this one aimed at next-gen connectivity for IoT devices


5G IoT operator OQ Technology has inked a deal with satellite firm NanoAvionics to build what OQ boss Omar Qaise described as a "flying cell tower in orbit."

Assuming that cell tower had a volume of 30cm x 20cm x 10cm and weighed 6kg.

The 6U satellite is the second mission for NanoAvionics with OQ Technology and will be the latest addition to the latter's Low Earth Orbit constellation. The plan is to provide basic commercial IoT and Machine to Machine (M2M) services, using 5G connectivity, to customers with a focus initially on Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

The mission, dubbed Tiger-2, will feature two payloads onboard the diminutive spacecraft; a primary payload for satellite-based IoT and M2M services using low frequencies, and a secondary payload aimed at demonstrating the use of high frequencies for IoT radio links.

Engineer working on OQ Tiger-2

Engineer working on Tiger-2

Qaise told The Register that three missions were expected this year, and the target was to eventually have more than 60 satellites at an altitude of 550-600km "for real-time coverage." The spacecraft are expected to last five years and, if undisturbed, de-orbit within 25 years. "We can also actively bring them down," he added.

Where the likes of Starlink and Oneweb are aimed squarely at broadband services and shovelling large amounts of data around for applications such as streaming, Tiger-2 and its siblings target IoT devices. Qaise cited hardware such as sensors or tracking devices that require only short messages. "So instead of having millions of users with large amounts of data, you have billions of devices with small amounts of data."

Qaise also highlighted another key difference – rather than needing a router-like device to distribute the internet service, "we use the same existing mobile and cellular devices to connect to the satellite directly. The satellite acts as a flying cell tower in orbit."

It'll certainly be a challenge for 5G protestors to set on fire.

Two more missions are scheduled after Tiger-2, followed by a batch of six satellites. The plan is to eventually make the coverage global, and Qaise told us that customers would be able to use the service by Q3. The company also plans to secure frequency licences and partnerships in key countries.

For those groaning at the thought of yet another constellation (although one with considerably fewer satellites than something like Starlink) Qaise insisted that the chance of a collision in the selected orbits was low, and active monitoring and manoeuvring would be used if needed.

As for the ride to orbit, the mission will launch as part of the SXRS-5 rideshare aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 later this year. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading
  • Google assuring open-source code to secure software supply chains
    Java and Python packages are the first on the list

    Google has a plan — and a new product plus a partnership with developer-focused security shop Snyk — that attempts to make it easier for enterprises to secure their open source software dependencies.

    The new service, announced today at the Google Cloud Security Summit, is called Assured Open Source Software. We're told it will initially focus on some Java and Python packages that Google's own developers prioritize in their workflows. 

    These two programming languages have "particularly high-risk profiles," Google Cloud Cloud VP and GM Sunil Potti said in response to The Register's questions. "Remember Log4j?" Yes, quite vividly.

    Continue reading
  • Rocket Lab is taking NASA's CAPSTONE to the Moon
    Mission to lunar orbit is further than any Photon satellite bus has gone before

    Rocket Lab has taken delivery of NASA's CAPSTONE spacecraft at its New Zealand launch pad ahead of a mission to the Moon.

    It's been quite a journey for CAPSTONE [Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment], which was originally supposed to launch from Rocket Lab's US launchpad at Wallops Island in Virginia.

    The pad, Launch Complex 2, has been completed for a while now. However, delays in certifying Rocket Lab's Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) pushed the move to Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022