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Non-Terrestrial Networks

1. A technology that allows mobile phones or other devices to connect directly to mobile networks that are not land-based. Generally this means space-based networks (satellites orbiting the earth), but it can also mean base stations at very high altitudes, such as attached to balloons or planes. This technology allows phones (and other devices) to have service where land-based cellular networks do not provide coverage.

These technologies are usually limited in capability, offering only text messaging (one-way or two-way) or very limited data bandwidth.

Note that NTN usually refers to a technology that must be specifically designed into a phone; not all phones support NTN. It also may use a special radio frequency not normally used for cellular service. There are other approaches that offer similar service but work with essentially all phones, using standard cellular frequency bands.

2. The 3GPP standard for NTN (as described above) with 5G technology. This standard, called NR-NTN, encompasses satellite networks operating at LEO, MEO, or GEO orbits.

Last updated May 12, 2023 by Rich Brome

Editor in Chief Rich became fascinated with cell phones in 1999, creating mobile web sites for phones with tiny black-and-white displays and obsessing over new phone models. Realizing a need for better info about phones, he started Phone Scoop in 2001, and has been helming the site ever since. Rich has spent two decades researching and covering every detail of the phone industry, traveling the world to tour factories, interview CEOs, and get every last spec and photo Phone Scoop readers have come to expect. As an industry veteran, Rich is a respected voice on phone technology of the past, present, and future.

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