Creating and sharing knowledge for telecommunications

IT helps to develop a solution for low altitude communications

on 28-04-2020

... The situation of social confinement, caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, has led to a saturation of the telecommunications networks, which is reflected in an excess of latency that causes delays. "In the future, with low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, this delay caused by latency will no longer happen", said Ricardo Correia, responsible for Sinuta's Research Area and an alumni of IT, to Exame Informática about the STRX project.

Gathering experts from IT, INESC-TEC and Sinuta, the objective of project STRX is to develop an aggregate of directional millimeter antennas, avaliable for any consumer to purchase, allowing access to the new global satellite constellations, which have been launched by companies such as Starlink, OneWeb, Amazon, Telsat or Leosar. The STRX team hopes to have a solution ready to enter the market within two years. "When it reaches the market, this equipment may already have more than a thousand units that work as receivers or emitters", said João Matos, researcher from IT in Aveiro.

In addition to not being portable, the antenna aggregates already available on the market are intended only for luxury segments, such as yachts, or the commercial aviation segment. The STRX team believes that it will be possible to develop a less-expensive and more portable equipment. With that in mind, the researchers will use the IT laboratories to develop chips that, likely, will have to be equiped with their own antennas. Instead of one large antenna that ensures all the communications with a satellite, here multiple small antennas are used that guarantee the same range, with the advantageous possibility of being automatically directed to establish communications with LEO satellites (wich are at a maximum altitude of 1200 kilimeters).

In addition to the global satellite market, through adaptations that will take into account the frequencies used, the developed solution may also be used to allow communications with the 5G mobile phone networks.

Photo: Ricardo Correia (Sinuta) shows two components of the satellite communications receiver prototype created during the STRX project