5G will change the way of doing things, that is why at TST we are already working to become an “Early Adopter” of NB-IoT Satellite networks, communications for the Internet of Things through networks of satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) contemplated in the future Release 17 of 5G. To find out more about this initiative, we chatted with Miguel Ángel López, head of Innovation and an expert in Communications Systems and 5G Technologies. He also tells us about other projects of the company, as well as the current moment of IoT technologies.
Born in Madrid, Miguel Ángel is a Technical Telecommunications Engineer from the Polytechnic University of Alcalá de Henares and has a Master’s degree in Communications Technologies and Systems from the Higher Technical School of Telecommunications Engineering of the UPM. In his more than 16-year professional career, he has held positions of responsibility in various companies, including Indra Sistemas, in highly complex areas such as air traffic management or defense systems. Since 2021 he has been responsible for Innovation at TST.
Miguel Ángel, the great deployment of satellite networks that we are experiencing, how will it impact IoT projects?
“I think very positively. Some of those low orbit (LEO) satellite networks are going to be, precisely, IoT networks. 5G Release 17 (about to be published) contemplates the deployment of NTN networks (Non-Terrestrial Networks), that is, satellite networks that give global coverage to 5G technology that include IoT communications, such as NB-IoT. At TST we are already working to become an “Early Adopter” of this satellite communications technology with one of the main players that has promoted the inclusion of NTN networks in the 5G standard”.
What advantages can we expect from NB-IoT Satellite networks?
“NB-IoT Satellite networks are going to play a fundamental role in the coming years. Unlike traditional terrestrial IoT networks, satellite-based IoT communications give you global coverage. This will allow the development of new business models that until now were not viable due to the lack of IoT coverage. Let’s think, for example, of tracking and monitoring the status of goods in real time for global transport chains, thanks to satellite networks we will have permanent global coverage. Through TST’s innovation programs, we are developing the necessary technology to equip our products with NB-IoT satellite coverage as soon as it is commercially available. By then we at TST will have extensively tested the NB-IoT satellite technology.”.
What other projects are you working on?
“At TST, we are working on R&D projects related to Artificial Intelligence, the location of indoor assets with UWB and BLE technologies, the incorporation of new technologies and radio capabilities to the company’s portfolio, such as radar and 5G , and distributed ledger DLT technologies (such as Blockchain). In addition, we are working on robotics projects, developing UGVs with advanced autonomous functions.”.
NB-IoT & LTE-M
As an expert in the fields of telecommunications, how would you describe the current moment?
“We are in a moment of transition. Operators, with the publication of release 15 of 3GPP (the 5G standard) have launched a wild race to be the first to deploy 5G infrastructure, but it is not only necessary to have the communications infrastructure, at the same time they must be considered new business models. Steps are being taken in the right direction, but many opportunities remain to be discovered and developed, facilitated by these new capabilities offered by 5G networks. On the other hand, to reach the full potential of the technology, there are still a few years to go, with the launch of new 3GPP releases. At the same time, new businesses based on high capacity and ultra-low latency will appear (autonomous driving, hyper-automated factories typical of Industry 4.0) and the massive deployment of connected IoT sensors, for unimaginable use cases”.
In the IoT area, which communication technologies are the most implemented today and which will be implemented in the future?
“The range of IoT communication technologies is very varied. The technologies used so far have been SigFox, LoRa and cellular technologies, such as 2G, 3G, NB-IoT or LTE-M. But in the future it seems that the cellular IoT communications technologies (under the umbrella of the 5G standard) will clearly be dominant, namely the NB-IoT (terrestrial and satellite), LTE-M (eMTC) and the new 5G RedCap. (or NR-Light)”.
Live near the sea
In June 2021 you join TST as head of Innovation. What prompted you to take that professional step?
“The decision to join TST and leave Indra was due to several factors. On the one hand, I wanted a professional change and TST offered me a project that I found interesting and exciting. The other reason touches on a more personal side, I wanted to live near the sea and have a better quality of life. The pandemic also had something to do with the decision. It gave us all time to stop and reflect on what we wanted and in my case, it was “the excuse” to change everything: place of residence, work and personal life”.
What are your mission within TST??
“As head of Innovation and Technological Capture, my mission is to promote the definition and specific development of innovative technologies (location, 5G, RF, Radar, etc.) in engineering and R&D projects, for the technological evolution and training of the company”.