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Space-based 5G internet of things (IoT) satellite constellation firm Sateliot is joining the Self-Evolving Terrestrial/Non-Terrestrial Hybrid Networks (Ether) consortium, a $3.5m project backed by the European Commission to develop offerings for what it said is a “ground-breaking, cutting-edge” telecommunications network.
Powered by rapidly emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the Ether project aims to provide the necessary framework for a 6G terrestrial/non-terrestrial network ecosystem, which also involves an AI and machine learning efficient zero-touch base, to build a “network of networks” by using functioning and projected telecommunication networks in earth, air and space.
Ether is funded by the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU), which, under the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, aims to ensure industrial leadership for Europe in 5G and 6G.
The SNS JU is jointly funded by private industry and the EU, and it boasts a €1.8bn budget for the 2021-27 period. An EU contribution of €900m will be, at the very least, matched by the private members. The SNS JU provides financial support in the form of R&I grants to participants following open and competitive calls.
This framework will be used as a baseline for the future of telecommunications, benefitting rural, unconnected areas all over the world. The consortium estimates that 15% of the planet doesn’t have cellular connectivity, and so industries such as agriculture, logistics, maritime transportation and others will particularly benefit.
The AI-based framework used by Ether is projected to self-evolve the segmented management and orchestration of the integrated network. One of Ether’s project goals is to demonstrate the viability of the unified network of networks, identifying the key benefits that will drive investment in this integration of non-terrestrial with terrestrial networks.
In addition, Ether said that the unified networks, built up with terrestrial and space networks, along with the use of AI and machine learning, will become “the ultimate” tool to bring 5G and 6G connectivity to rural and uncovered areas.
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As part of its role in the project, Sateliot will provide Ether with its nanosatellite constellation, setting a base for standardisation and interoperability between its network in space and the network in the ground through the implementation of a unified radio access network (RAN), and a 3D “network of networks”.
It also believes that Ether’s services will positively impact more than 25 million European citizens, who it said until now have remained marginalised from the opportunities internet access provides for social and economic prosperity.
“By entering the project, Sateliot is crossing a threshold, as we are marching in the frontline of network integration,” said Sateliot chief technology officer and co-founder Marco Guadalupi.
“Ether is an ambitious project for the magnitude of joining several networks and the use of AI and machine learning, whose effects on our society and the industry are more tangible today than ever before. We have already witnessed what developed AIs, like ChatGPT or Midjourney, are capable of doing at a user level.”