The European Space Agency (ESA) moved on a project to expand its UK hub dedicated to aiding development of 5G applications and 6G, with the international organisation setting its sights on further collaborations with industry.

In a statement, the ESA highlighted the signing of a contract with specialist IT system provider CGI to deliver new facilities for its enlarged hub, while noting support from the UK Space Agency.

The site opened in 2022 and provides facilities for third parties to experiment with connectivity services provided from satellites, including how this technology can be integrated into mobile operator offerings.

Industry players involved in the project include satellite communications companies Eutelsat and OneWeb, and Vodafone UK.

The expansion is set to increase the physical footprint of the hub’s dedicated networks and aid the development of enhanced satellite services; edge computing, multi-network and multi-orbit orchestration; and ease use of the connectivity systems.

Moving forward the team behind the project also intend to conduct environmental impact analysis of architecture used.

Head of ESA’s 5G-6G programme Antonio Franchi said collaboration “is key to telecommunications innovation and this project will consolidate the hub’s position as a focal point for the establishment of new partnerships, both within Europe and globally”.

Vodafone UK business director Nick Gliddon added validating “the interoperability between 5G networks on Earth and satellite networks in space” will enable the operator to “open up exciting new possibilities for connectivity across the world”.

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