Keysight Technologies, Inc. and Skylo Technologies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) extending Keysight's cellular testing expertise to non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) by using Skylo's test cases to create a certification program for 3GPP 5G Release 17 (Rel-17) NTN chipsets, modules and devices using narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) protocol over NTN.

The use of 5G satellite-to-ground connections is rapidly gaining traction as mobile operators and their customers look to extend secure, reliable and high-bandwidth connectivity across their entire geographical footprint and surrounding waters. Widespread NTN deployments can enable industries such as agriculture, energy, healthcare and transportation by using low-cost and low-powered NB-IoT devices for applications including remote sensing, asset tracking and surveillance.

Using Keysight's unique and first-to-market NTN Device Acceptance Solutions, the certification plan will validate NB-IoT NTN chipsets, modules and devices for use on Skylo's network. Keysight's automated solutions ensure repeatability of results while also optimizing for test times by integrating 4G and 5G networks with real-world channel emulation into a single solution. This testing method enables end-to-end testing for terrestrial and NTN networks in the lab, realistically simulating orbit trajectories for holistic verification of the performance of non-terrestrial infrastructures and dual-node devices.

Keysight NTN Device Acceptance Solutions build on Keysight's 5G Network Emulation Solutions, with the only wireless network emulator platform supporting both 5G NR and NB-IoT NTN technologies in a single platform. The NTN Device Acceptance Solutions also includes Orbit Emulation technology from Keysight's 5G Channel Emulation Solutions, which is designed to emulate the impairments of complex 3D real-world radio channel conditions.

Skylo's network is based on 3GPP 5G Rel-17 specifications and is currently live in certain geographical regions. While grounded in 3GPP specifications, much of the network development operates on Skylo's "Standards Plus" approach. Skylo's engineers add additional technical specifications to improve the functionality, interoperability and ubiquity of the satellite-based network over and above the 3GPP standards, delivering an exceptional user experience.

Andrew Nuttall, chief technology officer and co-founder at Skylo Technologies, said, "Skylo Technologies specializes in delivering NTN services that enable devices to connect directly over existing satellite networks. We are pleased to partner with Keysight Technologies to accelerate our certification program to unlock a whole ecosystem of NB-NTN chipsets, modules and devices. This partnership will solidify our commitment to connectivity, innovation and our role as a global NTN leader."

Lucas Hansen, VP/GM, Communications Solutions Group at Keysight said, "Keysight plays a critical role to deliver solutions that enable our customers to bring this amazing technology to market. NTN will transform global connectivity and unleash satellite services to the broad market. It's been great to collaborate with Andrew and the Skylo team to accelerate the deployment of the NTN devices to digitally connect all parts of the world."