Mar 24, 2021

The future of 5G might be in space

space
5G
Technology
Omnispace
Tilly Kenyon
2 min
A new agreement will see the development of 5G networking technology in space
A new agreement will see the development of 5G networking technology in space...

Lockheed Martin, a giant US defence contractor, has announced a ‘strategic interest agreement’ with satellite start-up Omnispace to explore jointly developing 5G capability from space. 

Virginia-based Omnispace is working to build and develop a hybrid space and ground network to provide 5G, the satellite based network would beam internet connections directly to 5G devices. The two companies have been talking for about a year and Lockheed Martin have said that the agreement does not involve any financial investment. 

What are Omnispace/Lockheed Martin planning?

The collaboration between both companies aims to provide a hybrid 5G network that delivers the coverage and capacity to support essential applications that require seamless, reliable and global communications. Omnispace’s vision is a ‘one global network’, this will combine the reach of a non-geostationary orbit satellite constellation with the capacity of the world’s leading mobile wireless carrier networks. This 5G non-terrestrial network (NTN) will use the company’s priority 2GHz S-band spectrum rights and employ 3GPP standards to enable direct-to-device connectivity and interoperability. 

Will this be purely for defence or consumers? 

The proposed network would offer commercial, enterprise and government devices ever-present communications worldwide. Omnispace and Lockheed Martin have indicated that they're planning on targeting a range of sectors, such as commercial and civil applications to "defense, government and military use, including mobile joint all-domain interoperable communications."

“We share a common vision with Omnispace of a space-based 5G global network that would enable users to seamlessly transition between satellite and terrestrial networks — eliminating the need for multiple devices on multiple networks,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “Ultimately, it’s about empowering end users with low latency connections that work anywhere. This step forward has the potential to upend space-based mobility.”

What are the next steps? 

Ram Viswanathan, president and CEO for Omnispace, said: “Omnispace is fully committed to the vision of creating a new global communications platform that powers 5G connectivity directly to mobile devices from space,” 

The next step for Omnispace will be deploying a proof of concept of its proposed technology in space. Yet to finish designing their system, Viswanathan has stated it will have "dramatically lower cost" than other satellite communications constellations, which estimate anywhere from $5 billion to more than $10 billion to fully deploy. 

Omnispace is not the only company aiming to provide 5G from space. Startups Lynk and AST & Science's SpaceMobile are both in the race to deploy satellite constellations capable of broadcasting 4G and 5G signals directly to users' existing phones through mobile network operators' existing spectrum holdings.

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Jun 8, 2021

Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage

Technology
Fastly
servers
websites
Tilly Kenyon & Oliver James Fr...
3 min
Multiple outages have hit social media, government, and news websites across the globe

A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.

It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.

“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.

What is Fastly?

Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.

The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06. 

What are CDNs?

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.

They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times. 

Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.

The Risk of CDNs

Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features. 

Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray. 

Over the coming days, both Technology Magazine and Data Centre Magazine will continue to provide updates on the current situation as developments are made.

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