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Nokia to build mobile network on the moon

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The lunar network will be part of Nasa’s efforts to return humans to the moon by 2024 and build long-term settlements there under its Artemis programme.

File picture: Reuters

HELSINKI – Finland’s Nokia has been selected by Nasa to build the first cellular network on the moon, the company said on Monday.

The lunar network will be part of the US space agency’s efforts to return humans to the moon by 2024 and build long-term settlements there under its Artemis programme.

Nokia said the first wireless broadband communications system in space would be built on the lunar surface in late 2022, before humans make it back there.

The Finnish company will partner with Texas-based private space craft design firm Intuitive Machines to deliver the network equipment to the moon on their lunar lander.

After delivery, the network will configure itself and establish the first LTE (long-term evolution) communications system on the moon, Nokia said. “The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data-transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video,” Nokia said.

Ealier this month, Orange and Proximus have picked Nokia to help build 5G networks in Belgium as they drop Huawei amid US pressure to exclude the Chinese firm from supplying key telecoms equipment.

The moves are among the first by commercial operators in Europe to drop Huawei from next-generation networks and come after months of diplomatic pressure from Washington, which alleges Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

The Belgian capital Brussels is home to the Nato alliance and the European Union’s executive and parliament, making it a matter of particular concern for US intelligence agencies.

“Belgium has been 100% reliant on Chinese vendors for its radio networks – and people working at Nato and the EU were making mobile phone calls on these networks,” said John Strand, an independent Danish telecoms consultant.

“The operators are sending a signal that it’s important to have access to safe networks.”

The United States welcomed the decisions by Orange Belgium and Proximus, which have a network sharing agreement.

“This is the latest example of evaporating Huawei deals and further confirmation of this worldwide momentum towards trusted vendors,” said Keith Krach, the US undersecretary at the State Department for economic growth, energy and the environment.

Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment supplier, strongly denies the U.S. allegations and has been highly critical of calls to ban it from 5G contracts.

– Reuters