ST Engineering iDirect and Hellas Sat Successfully Validate Hybrid 5G Satellite Backhaul Use Cases

Demonstration sees full integration of satellite into the 5G network, paving the way for service across remote areas of Greece and Cyprus

Herndon, VA - November 16, 2021

ST Engineering iDirect, a global leader in satellite communications, and Athens-based satellite operator Hellas Sat, have successfully validated hybrid 5G backhauling use cases over satellite. Showcasing a completely seamless transition between terrestrial and satellite-based networks, the demonstration not only confirms the critical role that satellite will play in the 5G ecosystem through its capability to broaden coverage to hard-to-reach areas, but further reinforces its cellular backhaul capabilities across Hellas Sat's satellite coverage.

The demonstration was organized in partnership with Korean satellite operator KT-SAT, with Thales Alenia Space and Vodafone Greece which held the first 5G satellite backhauling demonstration in February 2021. It showcased how satellite can enable increased coverage in areas where traditional backhauling technologies are either unsuitable or not cost-effective.

ST Engineering iDirect's Evolution hub and modem equipment supported the transmission on the Hellas Sat 3 satellite and Vodafone Greece's 5G spectrum in the 2100 MHz and 3600 MHz frequency zones. KT-SAT also provided its world's-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.

"After two decades of operations, we are excited to be exploring this new dawn in connectivity," said Christodoulos Protopapas, CEO of Hellas Sat. "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."

"This demonstration is another step towards the commercialization 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."

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