Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites for Enterprise 5G: A Very Long-term Opportunity, at Best

by Leo Gergs | 1Q 2021 | IN-6065
While 2020 has been the year for terrestrial 5G deployments, 2021 starts with growing interest in how to bring mobile connectivity into space, as a range of companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, OneWeb, and SpaceX all announced their satellite ambitions for communication technologies during 2020. Amazon announced their intention to spend US$10 billion to launch low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites (i.e., those that operate at a particularly low altitude) into space. Most prominently, their LEO ambitions, called “Project Kuiper,” will also include backhaul for 4G and 5G sites. Since the early days of 2021, the discussion has gained significantly more commercial relevance, as the U.S. American Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has granted Elon Musk’s Space X company permission to launch 10 so-called “Starlink” LEO satellites into polar orbit to provide internet access.

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