WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin announced March 23 it has signed an agreement with Omnispace to share business and technical information on the deployment of 5G networking technology in space.

Virginia-based Omnispace is developing a hybrid space and ground network to provide 5G and internet of things services. Lockheed Martin said the “strategic interest agreement” with Omnispace does not involve any financial investment and is intended to explore joint development of 5G mobile broadband capability from space. 

Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest military contractor, is interested in applying commercial broadband and wireless technologies for government use. The ability to transmit large amounts of data at high speeds and low latency is one capability that Lockheed Martin wants to bring to the government market. 

Omnispace is targeting markets like agriculture, mining and energy, shipping and logistics. 5G satellite connectivity would be a significant boost to mobile networking as it could be used on vehicles, ships, airplanes or other platforms regardless of their location. 

Omnispace is still developing its network. It plans to use both satellites and terrestrial wireless networks to provide 5G connectivity. The company’s network will operate in a wedge of spectrum in the two-gigahertz band.

“In collaboration with Lockheed Martin, this hybrid 5G network would provide the coverage and capacity to support essential applications requiring seamless, reliable global communications,” said Ram Viswanathan, president and CEO of Omnispace. “We welcome Lockheed Martin’s holistic approach to complex systems and deep expertise in satellite technology and government markets, along with their commitment to creating innovative communication solutions,” he said in a statement.

If users are able to seamlessly transition between satellite and terrestrial networks, that eliminates the need for multiple devices on multiple networks, said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “Ultimately, it’s about empowering end users with low latency connections that work anywhere.”

The U.S. Space Force would be a potential customer for space-based 5G. The Space and Missile Systems Center in a recent request for information said it is doing market research to “determine how to leverage rapidly emerging 5G technologies” for military applications. One of the questions SMC is asking vendors to answer: “What are your capabilities to provide 5G services from space?”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...