Mediatek democratizes satellite and 5G at Mobile World Congress 2023


MediaTek’s presence at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event has grown with the company’s prominence in the mobile and IoT space. This year it has once again increased its presence at the fair to demonstrate its latest innovations and new products in the fields of IoT and 5G together with partners. The biggest announcements came this week leading up to the show, as MediaTek unveiled another new Dimensity SoC and a new 5G satellite-enabled chipset, as well as mobile devices with NTN (non-terrestrial network) capability.

MediaTek’s role in the 5G satellite market

There’s no doubt that Apple has pushed the industry into yet another tech trend. This is true despite the fact that many companies – including MediaTek – have been working tirelessly to implement satellite connectivity in smartphones for years. MediaTek decided long ago that its approach would be fully standards-based, meaning it would be compliant with the 3GPP 5G NR standard for satellite communications introduced in the Release 17 specification.

MediaTek’s new MT6825 is a standalone chipset that complements the existing capabilities of a smartphone by adding 3GPP IoT NTN capabilities to enable bi-directional NTN messaging. However, there are many other applications outside of smartphones where this chipset could prove useful, especially in areas with poor cellular coverage. For example, imagine a rugged tablet used by technicians on a deep-sea oil rig. You can learn more about MediaTek’s background at NTN in this article I wrote last summer.

MediaTek is also targeting 5G NR-NTN features, which should bring better performance and more features like voice and video to 5G satellite connectivity. However, most satellites today do not support the 1+ MBit/s speed that NR-NTN is supposed to deliver; that will likely have to come once the next-gen constellations launch in the 2025 timeframe. Constellations consisting of a network of a specific number and generation of satellite technology from a specific company. MediaTek has long worked with other 3GPP contributors to bring NTN to specification and democratize the technology. However, we expect that many devices that take advantage of satellite connectivity in the years to come will be premium devices, especially when you factor in the additional engineering and BOM costs that come with discrete modems like this and other RF components .

Ultimately, however, we believe satellites could become the basic connectivity layer for emergency services needed by governments to ensure people are safe wherever they venture. However, that is likely to be many years from now – that is, until most smartphone SoCs have built-in satellite capabilities and the cost structure is normalized for mainstream deployment. I believe that will happen once there is some consolidation of which bands will be used for 5G satellite communications. Currently, network operators use 5 megahertz spectrum sections for satellite communications, leading to fragmentation; Once NR-NTN rolls around, we could see spectrum up to 20 megahertz in use. Spectrum harmonization for satellite networks will be crucial to maximize its uptake, similar to what we have seen using 3.5-3.7 gigahertz globally for the 5G mid-band.

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MediaTek is working closely with Bullitt on three commercially available devices with its MT6825 chipset that are compliant with Release 17 and 3GPP NTN standards. Those devices are two rugged smartphones – the Cat S75 and the Motorola Defy 2 – and the Motorola Defy Satellite Link (which should really be called a satellite hotspot). The Motorola Defy Satellite Link is a compact, portable Bluetooth accessory that connects to Android or iOS devices to connect to the Bullitt Satellite Connect platform. Bullitt Satellite Connect allows users to access location sharing, emergency SOS, and two-way satellite messaging from virtually any smartphone or tablet. I would imagine this would be very attractive to users traveling into the wilderness or other places where there is no coverage.

The new MediaTek Dimensity 7200 chipset

The new Dimensity 7200 adds a new tier to the MediaTek Dimensity family, sitting between the old 1000 series and the new 8000 and 9000 series. The 7200 joins the 8200 and 9200 as the newest members of the 5G chipset family, using both the latest cores from Arm and TSMC’s latest second-generation 4nm process node. (See my November 2022 analysis for more details on the Dimensity 9200.) The Dimensity 7200 is an eight-core design with two Arm Cortex-A715 cores running at 2.8 gigahertz and six Arm Cortex-A510 cores, making it a All 64-bit theme. It is also equipped with an Arm Mali G610 MC4 GPU, so it has Arm’s latest IP.

This new Dimensity 7000 series is designed to address the mid-range of the market with a 14-bit HDR ISP with 200MP main camera support, a limited R16 5G modem that only supports sub-6 gigahertz, and peak throughput of 4.7 Gbit/s to be satisfied. It still supports dual 5G SIM and VoNR, but it comes with Wi-Fi 6E instead of Wi-Fi 7 found in the higher tiers of MediaTek chipsets. The Dimensity 7200 also includes HyperEngine 5.0 gaming technologies, an older version of MediaTek’s gaming technology suite. (The new Dimensity 9200 chips feature the more robust HyperEngine 6.0.) OEMs are expected to ship devices with the Dimensity 7200 SoC before the end of Q1 — likely in the next few weeks.

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MediaTek demos at MWC 2023

Thanks to MediaTek’s increased presence at MWC this year, the company will be hosting dozens of demos at their booth, some of which I’m excited to see in person. There will be a variety of Dimensity 9200 demos covering technologies such as hardware ray tracing, variable rate shading, Wi-Fi 7 throughput and coexistence, as well as a showcase of all new Dimensity 9000 series devices from OEM partners including ASUS, Oppo and Vivo.

MediaTek will demonstrate numerous 5G technologies including mmWave, NR NTN, satellite IoT and AI applications for modems and antennas. The company will also share its vision for 6G, which is becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion as 5G begins transitioning to 5G Advanced, also known as 5.5G. There will also be static demos of MediaTek’s 5G for CPE/Mi-Fi and telematics solutions, which are particularly interesting as both are seen as huge growth areas for 5G in the near future. Finally, MediaTek and its Filogic Wi-Fi 7 ecosystem partners will show various devices and give live demos with peak throughput using the latest chipsets.

Wrap up

Mobile World Congress is always an exciting show and this year will be no different, especially given MediaTek’s growing momentum with the Dimensity family of products at many of the world’s leading OEMs. For example, Oppo recently unveiled its new Find N2 Flip 2 – complete with a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chipset – at a global launch event in London that drew a lot of press attention.

Another example is the announcement of MediaTek’s new satellite chipset with Bullitt, showing MediaTek’s leadership in 5G satellites and setting the company up for long-term success. I look forward to experiencing the demos that MediaTek will be hosting at MWC 2023 and will be back with my thoughts soon.

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Patrick Moorhead, Founder, CEO and Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, is an investor in dMY Technology Group Inc. VI, Fivestone Partners, Frore Systems, Groq, MemryX, Movandi and Ventana Micro.