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GSMA and ESA Launch $16M Challenge Focused on Terrestrial-Satellite Innovation 

By Rachel Jewett | February 26, 2024

Earth at night viewed from space. Photo: ESA/NASA

GSMA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are starting a 15 million euro ($16 million) million challenge, Non-Terrestrial Network (TN-NTN) Community, and other initiatives to foster innovation between terrestrial and satellite connectivity. The two announced new initiatives on Monday during Mobile World Congress, following plans to work together on the satellite and cellular convergence in July 2023

The goal of the partnership is to help telecommunications companies develop new services that bring together terrestrial and satellite communications. GSMA, which represents mobile network operators, estimates that innovations in satellite can bring an additional $30 billion to $35 billion in income to the industry by 2035. 

The new initiatives include a mobility challenge with up to 15 million euro ($16 million) challenge focusing on  smart antenna development and 5G interfaces, and a GSMA open gateway challenge focused on developing new APIs. The partnership is expanding access to ESA’s 5G/6G Hub in Harwell in the United Kingdom and ESA 5G/6G Telecoms Lab at Noordwijk in the Netherlands. 

They are also launching an NTN Community, open to GSMA members to bring together mobile network operators and satellite operators to collaborate and establish a roadmap for future activities. GSMA is also creating an NTN training course to support the development of the ecosystem.

“We want this partnership with ESA to help unlock the huge benefits satellite and terrestrial telecommunications networks can bring for businesses and consumers, by ensuring they’re closer connected,” said GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair. “By working together, we can help the communications industry bring innovative solutions to market, which in turn will create tremendous benefits to society.”