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Thales Alenia Space partners with KT SAT for the 5G satellite backhauling demonstration

February 4, 2021

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), is partnering with South Korean operator KT SAT, subsidiary of the world’s first 5G commercial service provider Korea Telecom, to lead 5G demonstration using the geostationary Koreasat 5A telecommunication satellite to provide 5G network to remote areas.

KT SAT will use 5G backhauling as the first stone of satellite integration in the 5G world. This unprecedented experiment consists in backhauling the connection between a 5G Core Network and a 5G gNB through KT SAT Koreasat-5A(GEO satellite). In this case, the satellite is not only a complement to terrestrial 5G network but a fully integrated part of it by receiving 5G network from Earth and then returning it to remote areas where traditional backhauling technologies (wired, fiber, radio beams) are not suitable for technical and/or economic reasons. This demo was implemented from the KT SAT’s Kumsan teleport.

Koreasat 5A, orbited by SpaceX in 2017, is based on a Thales Alenia Space’s Spacebus 4000B2 platform, Koreasat and equipped with Ku-band transponders. Koreasat 5A covers Indochina, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Central Asia. Thales Alenia Space was the prime contractor for KOREASAT-5A, in charge of its design, production and testing.

It is not the first time that Thales Alenia Space is involved in 5G demonstration. Indeed, on February 20th 2018, as part of “5G Champion”, a Horizon 20201  research project that is being financed by the European Commission, Thales Alenia Space, with CEA/LETI (electronics and IT lab) and Nokia as partners, showcased 5G communications technology demonstration at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As a 3GPP2  member, Thales Alenia Space continue to adopt new standards regarding NTN (Non Terrestrial Network) in 5G with strong acceleration of the traditional cellular stakeholders.

“This new partnership between Thales Alenia Space and KT SAT shows a trustful relationship between both companies, reinforces Thales Alenia Space’s implication in South Korean market and strengthens its pioneer position in 5G” declared Marc-Henri Serre, VP Telecommunication at Thales Alenia Space.

KT SAT CEO Song Kyung-Min said “This satellite-based 5G backhaul experiment using KOREASAT has opened possibilities for 5G communications without geographical divisions caused by mountains and oceans. Based on this technology, KT SAT will expand its global outreach, particularly in Southeast Asia where terrestrial network construction faces difficulties.”

In November last year, KT SAT unveiled the world’s first router for hybrid satellite-terrestrial 5G transmission. The hybrid router, demonstrated online, was developed with the KT Institute of Convergence Technology, further expanding the role of satellites in 5G services.


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