"New dawn in connectivity" as Hellas Sat and ST test hybrid 5G backhaul

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Athens-based satellite operator Hellas Sat has validated hybrid 5G backhauling use cases over satellite with ST Engineering iDirect, in what Hellas Sat CEO Christodoulos Protopapas has called a "new dawn in connectivity".

The demonstration paves the way for services to launch across remote areas of Greece and Cyprus, where traditional backhauling technologies are either unsuitable or not cost-effective. Hellas Sat and ST reported "seamless transition" between terrestrial and satellite-based networks.

Korean satellite operator KT-SAT also took part alongside Thales Alenia Space and Vodafone Greece – which held the first 5G satellite backhauling demonstration in February of this year.

“After two decades of operations, we are excited to be exploring this new dawn in connectivity,” said Protopapas.

“It is so encouraging to see our partners engaging in such an important Proof of Concept to enable people to witness the benefits that satellite-based technology can offer. This ability to seamlessly transition assures connectivity in the most remote areas for communities, businesses and transport and also vital communications such as disaster recovery.”

The demonstration used the Hellas Sat 3 satellite and Vodafone Greece’s 5G spectrum in the 2100 MHz and 3600 MHz frequency zones, supported by ST Engineering iDirect’s Evolution hub and modem equipment. KT-SAT provided its world-first hybrid router for satellite-terrestrial 5G transmission.

5G terminals were connected to the router to simultaneously transmit and receive various types of data, or utilized separate routes to and from a 5G network and a satellite. The terminals successfully maintained normal service operations with the Hellas Sat 3 satellite connectivity, even after the 5G network was intentionally disconnected.

“This demonstration is another step towards the commercialisation of 5G backhaul over satellite services,” said Semir Hassanaly, head of cellular backhaul and trunking at ST Engineering iDirect.

“It shines a light on the critical role that satellite is going to play in the future of connectivity. As 5G becomes more prevalent, it’s essential that remote communities, moving vehicles and other users of 5G connectivity, are connected ubiquitously and continuously. We are immensely proud to be involved in this demonstration and thank Hellas Sat for this opportunity to showcase the capabilities of hybrid satellite and terrestrial connectivity with these other pioneering companies.”