Satellite 5G networks may soon allow the European Space Agency and technology giant CGI to create innovative new services to benefit people across the globe


AN AGREEMENT between the European Space Agency (ESA) and global technology firm CGI, supported by the UK Space Agency, looks set to make major advances in connecting the globe – leading to countless advantages across vital sectors such as health, transport, energy, and the environment.

These breakthroughs in space technology will soon enable rapid connectivity in many remote areas to superfast 5G networks – with the health sector likely to be the first to benefit, allowing medical services instant, up-to-date information that could save patients’ lives.

“It’s all quite sci-fi but the technology allows huge amounts of data to be provided and processed in the blink of an eye, and the transformation that will create in how we live and work is going to be quite phenomenal,” says Justene Ewing, vice-president of consulting services at CGI. 

CGI has been working with ESA for some time and earlier this year signed a memorandum of intent to pursue space-based activities using 5G communications networks. 

The agreement will see the organisations work together to analyse, develop and implement space-enabled innovative technologies, products and services to accelerate the benefits 5G networks can offer.

The focus will be on applications for rural communities, healthcare, logistics and transport, public services, environment and energy, creative industries, and smart tourism.

Shaun Stretton, vice-president of satellite communications and space data platforms at CGI in the UK, said: “This an exciting project that brings together CGI’s satcom ground systems and communications. expertise. 


“After talking to mobile network operators and other key stakeholders for 5G, it became clear that one of the initial challenges is efficiently rolling out networks while there are many locations both in the UK and globally that don’t have sufficient access to terrestrial connectivity in order to support 100 per cent 5G coverage. 

“Utilising the global connectivity capabilities available from space in an efficient and integrated manner is the solution, and Carnot-Sat will provide 5G planners with the tool set they require to achieve it.”

Shortly before signing the memorandum, CGI was awarded a contract by ESA to develop a toolkit called Carnot-Sat to integrate terrestrial and satellite networks. 

The first of its kind, it will enable network operators to quickly and efficiently design and optimise 5G networks with the use of satellites enabling the rapid delivery of 5G benefits to everyone, everywhere. 

Catherine Mealing-Jones, director of growth at the UK Space Agency, added: “Space technology is vital for the successful rollout of 5G and ubiquitous connectivity more generally.

“This programme will help people and communities across the whole country to access the next generation of digital services and grow the UK’s thriving space sector and the wider economy.”

Antonio Franchi, manager of 5G activities at ESA, says: “ESA appreciates and is supportive of the initiative, since Space for 5G is the new ESA strategic programme line in the ARTES programme,  fostering the convergence of networks for seamless connectivity, which supports industry to develop space technology and services for downstream businesses.”

This article was brought to you in partnership with CGI as part of The Herald's STEM campaign