CGI develops 5G Hub for European Space Agency

CGI (NYSE: GIB) (TSX: GIB.A) has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop an innovative 5G facility at the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. 

This 5G Hub will enable the development and acceleration of potential use cases and demonstrate the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks.  CGI will develop initial demonstrations to showcase the potential of 5G in enabling smart cities, the Internet of Things, and augmented reality. The 5G Hub will provide an engineering facility for researchers and companies to experiment with hybrid satellite/terrestrial capability using a 5G radio network backhauled to ESA’s 5G core over European geostationary satellites. CGI will develop management and orchestration software to enable satellite networks, including Low Earth Orbit networks, to be seamlessly integrated into terrestrial public and private communications networks, creating new business opportunities for application developers, network operators, and equipment providers.

The ECSAT 5G Hub builds on CGI’s own 5G Accelerator Lab which is used to explore and demonstrate the advantages of integrated satellite and terrestrial systems using over-the-air tests.  In developing its own facility, CGI has built a unique vendor-agnostic approach which will enable CGI to integrate hybrid satellite and 5G communications into its capabilities as a global systems integrator.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “This year staying connected has taken on a new profound importance – from keeping in touch with loved ones and competing in Zoom quizzes to helping us tackle COVID-19. This new state-of-the-art facility backed by government funding will enable our brightest researchers and engineers to better understand how 5G can help connect us all, creating new business opportunities, while delivering green efficiencies across the UK.”

Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA, said: “ESA’s novel 5G Hub will showcase how space technology enables connectivity, partnering with industry to foster innovation in the realms of autonomous vehicles and smart cities, and to enable machines to exchange information with one another via the internet of things. Adding satellites to existing terrestrial 5G infrastructure is essential to ensure a reliable and safe telecommunications network that supports such connectivity, which in turn promotes a seamless and more environmentally friendly experience. Investing in space improves life on Earth.”

Shaun Stretton, Senior Vice President for UK & Australia Space Control and Information Solutions at CGI, said: “This exciting facility will bring closer the potential benefits of satellite integration into 5G networks.  Through our work with the European Space Agency and industry partners, including the development of our Carnot-Sat hybrid network planning tool, it became apparent that the ability to demonstrate the benefits of integrated 5G and satellite communications networks would help to accelerate the delivery of 5G in the UK and across Europe. CGI invested in our own innovative 5G Accelerator lab which is being used as a model for the 5G Hub at ECSAT.”

CGI is also working with BT, Avanti Communications and the University of Surrey to explore the requirements and set-up of an optimised Mobile Network Operator-focused value chain for 5G and satcoms capability.  The project will explore ways that the satellite value chain can be better optimised for MNOs so that benefits, such as deep rural connectivity, can be delivered to the end-users in an affordable way.

CGI has been delivering complex, mission-critical space software systems for clients across Europe, Asia and North America supporting satellite navigation, communications and operations, to space enabled applications for over 40 years..

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