SPACE: THE FINAL FRONTIER. These are the voyagers of Nokia and Vodafone. Their continuing mission: to explore strange new connections, to put 4G on the frickin' moon, to boldly go where no LTE has gone before.
Yeah, it's not April Fool's for a while, but the phone maker and telecoms firm, along with German space firm PTScientists, are planning to create a Moon-based comms network using 4G LTE.
The plan is to use the network to fire high-definition video from the Moon's surface back to space nerds back on Earth, rather than enable visiting aliens to snap pics of their galactic brunch on their ETPhone and upload them to Interstellargram.
PTScientists were planning to go to the Moon regardless, having partnered with Audi to deliver two four-wheeled rovers to the Moon's surface and then safely pilot them to the landing site of NASA's Apollo 17 lunar rover, which landed on the Moon in December 1972.
When the rovers are blasted off towards the moon in 2019, courtesy of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, it will be carrying space-grade hardware for an Ultra Compact Network, weighing less than 1kg, provided through Nokia's Bell Labs.
Vodafone will provide the 4G connectivity that will allow the two rovers to chat to each other and communicate with a base station in the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module used to take the rovers to the surface of the moon. The base station will then broadcast the first ever HD videos from the surface of the Moon back to Earth using the 1800MHz frequency band.
The mission, creatively named, ahem, 'Mission to the Moon', has an appropriate level of hyperbole swirling around it.
"In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth, we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet," said Robert Böhme, CEO of PTScientists.
"With Mission to the Moon we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon. The great thing about this LTE solution is that it saves so much power, and the less energy we use sending data, the more we have to do science."
Nokia's chief technology officer Marcus Weldon also jumped on the hype spaceship: "This important mission is supporting, among other things, the development of new space-grade technologies for future data networking, processing and storage, and will help advance the communications infrastructure required for academics, industry and educational institutions in conducting lunar research.
"These aims have potentially wide-ranging implications for many stakeholders and humanity as a whole."
That's all well and good but many networks can barely get 4G into the UK's rural areas, which are hardly as inhospitable as the Moon, unless you really hate fresh air, Land Rovers, and bemused cows.
So one could argue that Vodafone would win more customers if it concentrated on getting mobile broadband to poor Dai Bach stuck on a hill in the middle of West Wales rather than fire 4G to what's basically a glorified rock. But we guess that's not as flashy as flashy marketing as having putting 4G on the Moon. µ
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