Image: 2001, a Space Odyssey

Have you ever dreamt of exploring space? Perhaps, in our lifetime, we will be able to do some sightseeing on the Moon. If and when we get there, at least we’ll be able to stream our funny cat videos in HD. NASA and Nokia are working together to bring 4G connectivity to the lunar landscape.

The cellular network will be launched aboard a lunar lander and after touchdown on the Moon surface, should deploy and configure itself. As stated in Nokia’s press release: “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. These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface.”

For now the cellular network will be based on proven 4G technology, but a future upgrade to 5G speeds is being planned for. Deploying hardware on the Moon will bring some unique challenges, like dealing with the impact of cosmic radiation and the need for very low power consumption. On the upside, there will be no risk of obstacles or other sources of interference messing up our phone’s reception.

I for one am excited by the thought of the Internet reaching out into space. The Moon will be just the first step, as Elon Musk’s Starlink is already preparing to expand the network to Mars.


Most of us are still pretty happy with the fast 4G connection on our cellphones. But of course, it’s never fast enough and preparations are well underway for the next generation of wireless connectivity: 5G. Samsung just completed a test where they managed to achieve speeds of up to 1.7 Gigabits per second. That’s even more impressive because they did so on board a train speeding through Japan.

So, how did they do this and what is 5G? In fact, 5G is not just a faster version of 4G. It’s a range of technologies, not only aimed at faster speeds, but also at connecting more and more devices to the Internet of Things. Think of self driving cars that don’t have to send lots of data, but have to respond quickly to conditions on the road, making a low latency connection a must. Or think of a a sensor in your street, monitoring and transmitting the local air quality. You don’t want to be changing the batteries frequently, so low power consumption would be an important requirement.

In other words, 5G is not just faster browsing on your cellphone. The technology could develop into a serious competitor to a variety of ways we now connect devices wirelessly: not just 3/4G, but also WiFi, Bluetooth, Long Range Radio or Zigbee.

To accomplish all that, 5G will need to make use of new parts of the frequency spectrum, sometimes even using multiple frequencies at once to manage high speeds. That’s also one of the reasons it may still take a few years before we’ll be able to benefit from all that’s promised. Not only does the technology need to mature, but also governments need to approve (or auction) the rights to use the required parts of the frequency spectrum.