European Space Agency and GSMA carry forward future of connectivity after Mobile World Congress success

Speakers on stage at the Mobile World Congress

The close of Mobile World Congress, MWC Barcelona for short, has been hailed as a huge success by the engineers of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space for 5G/6G programme line and the global mobile innovation organisation, GSMA – not just for the future of connectivity but also in the interactions garnered from an over-one-hundred-thousand-visitor-strong audience, one of which included His Majesty the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

The event, which saw visitors from over 200 countries and territories engage with a myriad of technological showcases and attend panels and presentations, culminated in a firm partnership between ESA and GSMA that will focus on five key areas of innovation to help telecommunications companies develop new services for society by bringing together Terrestrial Networks (TN) and Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN).

Presented at MWC Barcelona’s first Satellite and Non-Terrestrial Networks Summit on 28 February, in which ESA’s Head of the 5G/6G NTN Programme Office Antonio Franchi formed part of a roundtable hosted by GSMA Intelligence’s Head of Research & Consulting Tim Hatt, two funding opportunities were unveiled to offer industry and academia the chance to leverage the transformative potential of seamless TNs and NTNs as well as revolutionise the mobility market by optimising connectivity demanded by the automotive industry. The event was so successful that the maximum allotted space of 150 people was exceeded by 1200, with GSMA organisers considering a larger venue for next year's Summit as a result.

In addition, GSMA Foundry (an initiative within GSMA to foster innovation and collaboration) and the Space for 5G/6G programme launched an NTN Community, which will enable members to collaboratively develop new projects and plot roadmaps for the future of connectivity; a two-week self-paced course on TN and NTN, and a labs network that opens up access for GSMA and Foundry members to collaborate at the 5G/6G Hub at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), Harwell, United Kingdom, and ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre's (ESTEC) Telecom 5G/6G Lab in the Netherlands. GSMA Foundry and ESA will also work together in inviting industry and academia to unify efforts towards the integration of networks on earth and in space.

Throughout the four-day event, the Space for 5G/6G programme played a pivotal role in showcasing ESA’s part in advancing the future of connectivity. Through two brand new augmented reality experiences, a live satellite feed via the OneWeb constellation between the GSMA Pavilion and the ECSAT 5G/6G Hub back in Harwell along with a bespoke metaverse experience, the imagination of global industry leaders was sufficiently captured at the ESA stand in the GSMA Pavilion.

Franchi said: “Mobile World Congress was a triumphant success, and ESA had the pleasure of showcasing ESA’s work in the integration of TN and NTN in our commitment to advance the future of connectivity. We were also delighted with the many attendees who graced our stand – from His Majesty the King of Spain, Felipe VI, GSMA Director General Mats Granryd and the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) Executive Director Erzsébet Fitori to our Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque and many members of media and industry, it was a pleasure to greet them all.”

“We are excited to carry on the spirit of MWC through our partnership with GSMA, as we work with key players in industry and academia in innovating and revolutionising the future of mobile and satellite communications,” Franchi added.

Published 04 March 2024
Last updated at 13 March 2024 - 15:16