back to article 4G found on Moon

Vodafone and Nokia have joined forces to bring 4G to a barren, characterless expanse (no, we don't mean Surrey suburbia). From 2019 LTE will be available on the moon. The network is intended to support a mission by Berlin company PTScientists, along with Vodafone Germany and Audi, to achieve the first privately funded Moon …

  1. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Audi Luna Quattros

    Are they sending up a space-suited Gene Hunt to drive the things?

    1. Mr Humbug

      Gene Hunt drives an Audi Mars Quattro

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Audi Luna Quattros

      Audi Quattro?

      There's only one...

      Michèle Mouton

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NnmkeyraRc

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Audi Luna Quattros

      Good luck serving those recall notices on the Audi, if it's anything like the A5.

    4. Inspector71
      Go

      Re: Audi Luna Quattros

      If you are talking Quattro then there is also Herr Rohrl of course......

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpBF2-DUIks

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    At last I will be able to phone from home

    If someone calls you howling its me!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: At last I will be able to phone from home

      I hope you have a high limit on your credit card, the roaming charges are likely to be ENORMOUS!

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: At last I will be able to phone from home

        I hope you have a high limit on your credit card, the roaming charges are likely to be ASTRONOMICAL!

        TFTFY

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At last I will be able to phone from home

          Out of this world... Some might say.

          1. VikiAi Silver badge
            Go

            Re: At last I will be able to phone from home

            You'd have to be a complete lunatic to pay those rates!

  3. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    My hopes and dreams, dashed.

    Am I alone in feeling very sad that god-damned cel phones are considered to be the first thing you need to colonize space?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

      Well, in space no-one can hear you scream. Because you can't get a bloody signal. Very important to correct this.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

      Nope, not alone at all. On the other hand, if 4G is available on the moon, can a Starbucks and hipsters be far behind? There may be a method to this apparent madness.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

        Starbucks tried opening a place on the Moon, but it was unpopular and had to close down. Critics reported that the coffee was out of this World, but unfortunately it lacked atmosphere.

        1. nijam

          Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

          > Critics reported that the coffee was out of this World, but unfortunately it lacked atmosphere

          Unlike terrestrial Starbucks, which just lack atmosphere.

        2. PhilBuk

          Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

          You can see why Starbucks failed. They should have stuck to their usual drinks rather than trying something they know nothing about like coffee.

          Phil.

      2. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

        I'm just wondering how pissed off so many people will be to realise that there's better mobile phone reception on the moon than in their own home.

        Of course, It'll get really interesting once the Moon gets proper fibre broadband installed...

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

      After 46 years of men last landing? Crushed is more like it for me.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

      Cell phones and cars salesmen...

    5. mrtom84

      Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

      4G is an interim solution: BT Openreach are hoping to roll out FTTM by the year 2025.

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    I thought NASA didn't want people playing around on the Apollo landing sites, disturbing them?

    Not that they own any real estate on the Moon of course. But it would be a bit rude if you were doing it without permission, to launching from NASA's own base. Even if it is on a private rocket.

    Also, have they bought a license for that spectrum from Lunar Ofcom? They might be interrupting the Clangers' mobile reception. Worse, it could even be ATC for the soup dragon!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's the Martian equivalent of an Ofcom weasel?

      What's the Martian equivalent of an Ofcom weasel?

      I know their fuck-buddy BT once used E.T. in its adverts, with E.T. even giving its customers the glowing finger in those ads, back then.

      Nothing changes.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SQximGCFgo

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      "Not that they own any real estate on the Moon of course."

      No they don't, but you reminded me about something saying that. What about that bloke that claimed all the planets and celestial bodies and started selling bits of them to gullible punters (yeah unfortunately me too in my younger days, chance for a bit of the moon eh, why not?). Surely he should kick up a stink about people going up there and sticking mobile masts on his and his customers land? Or is he busy sitting on his cash pile still laughing.

    3. Faux Science Slayer

      Oh NO....space weevils ate the lunar rover !

      Huge surprise when ESA discovers the lunar rover is on a Universal film studio backlog !

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and to think when someone said you have more change of getting 4g on moon I thought they were crazy.

  6. Paul Herber
    Devil

    patent that

    Patent everything 3G, 4G, 5G, bluetooth, everything, but on the moon (even though the moon has rounded corners).

    Patent everything 3G, 4G, 5G, bluetooth, everything, but on Mars (even though Mars has rounded corners).

    Patent everything 3G, 4G, 5G, bluetooth, everything, but on Mercury (even though Mercury has rounded corners).

    Patent everything 3G, 4G, 5G, bluetooth, everything, but on Venus (even though Venus has rounded corners).

    ad infinitum.

    <troll>

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: patent that

      That does actually raise some interesting questions? What is the scope of trademark/patent/copyright law? I'm pretty sure it doesn't extend off-planet. So could someone put a satellite in lunastationary orbit that projects a giant video of Snow White or Bambi on the lunar surface without Disney being able to sue?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: patent that

        as long as your "home of record" remains on Earth, you'd be subject to the laws of that jurisdiction.

        Additionally, there are international agreements, such as what you'd face "on the high seas".

        But I'm sure the legislators can't wait to muck things up even worse than it already is on Earth. No escaping it, like death and taxes.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: patent that

      Hello. EE customer support? How can I help you?

      My Venus-patented 5G mobile phone isn't working. I need a replacement.

      OK sir. Let me just do a couple of diagnostic checks. Firstly has it been disolved by the sulphuric acid rain?

      No.

      Has it been crushed by the massive atmospheric pressure?

      Nope.

      Has it been melted by the ludicrous surface heat?

      Nope.

      Struck by lightning?

      Ah yes, that was it.

      I'm sorry sir, that's considered an act of God, and so your insurance policy is void. Goodbye.

  7. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Why do they need a 'deep space network'? Its only the moon, you could...

    ... drive a Morris Minor there in five months. If there was a road.

    1. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Why do they need a 'deep space network'? Its only the moon, you could...

      "Deep space" doesnt really have a set definition, the best I could find is that the US GOV define it as anything outside cislunar space - basically anything beyond the moon.

      By definition the moon is always on the boundary of this.

      Though I suspect that the naming of the Deep space network is more to do with how cool it sounds than anything else!

    2. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: ...Morris Minor

      A Morris Minor requires air and petrol. Elon Musk sent Top Gear Stig into space in an electric car that requires no air and can be solar recharged.

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    "Hello"

    I'm on the moon.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Stupid

    This is just PR.

    There are better solutions. LTE is designed to suit patent holders, the issues of terrestrial channel size, handovers between bases etc.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Stupid

      'This is just PR.'

      Noooooo, I'm sure they're doing it for altruistic reasons...

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Stupid

      > There are better solutions.

      Possibly, but they might need extensive designing. This is off the shelf, plus some radiation hardening, so probably a bit less effort

      > LTE is designed to suit patent holders,

      Meh, Nokia is part of this, and the specs are in FRAND, so doubt they'll owe much. Equally I doubt this is vanilla LTE - probably rather cut down protocols as they don't need to worry about authenticating their users. Plus a core network in a box to do the local switching/routing to the right base station

      > the issues of terrestrial channel size,

      What issues? You can do carrier aggregation up to 6x20MHz, at least, plus MIMO and beam steering. Loads of capacity for each rover if they want

      > handovers between bases etc.

      Possibly a useful feature if the rover, you know, moves about

      Definitely good PR though :)

  10. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    And if there are any problems just call our hotline

    No need to worry about the 8 seconds delay when trying to get through to customer service…

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

      8 seconds? Luxury!

      Delay over four weeks (and counting) trying to contact Virgin Media's customer services.

      1. JohnMurray

        Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

        Virgin media have customer services?

        I suppose that's called progress....when does it start?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

      "8 seconds delay"

      yeah the signal has a half-million mile (or so) trip each way, or something like it. Imagine two people trying to talk during the silences.

      Well then...

      No you...

      OK, then...

      Uh, you first...

      Anyway ~1 million miles / 186,000 miles/sec -> ~6 seconds give or take some roundoff, and that assumes my half-million mile to the moon figgur is actually correct.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

        "yeah the signal has a half-million mile (or so) trip each way, or something like it. Imagine two people trying to talk during the silences."

        Not far off making an international call in the early 90s... I remember trying to speak to people in Saudi at the time over the phone and it was horrendous.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

        The mean distance to the moon from Earth is about 238,855 miles, so round trip delay isa bit more than two and a half seconds. My recollection is that when men were on the moon, the delays were noticeable but not so large as to get in the way of sensible communication.

      3. Mike Flugennock
        Boffin

        Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

        Actually, the Moon is roughly a quarter-million miles distant; 240k miles or so.

        If I recall from watching the teleoperated video from the LRVs on Apollos 15-17, the one-way signal time is something like 2 seconds -- enough that there's a discernible delay, but not so much that you can't have a normal radio conversation. Still, working the remote-controlled cam on the LRV required the operator to kind of guess ahead by about 2 or 3 seconds.

        When transmitting the live video of the Apollo 15-17 LMs lifting off from the Moon, the LRV cam console op in Mission Control would hit "tilt up" at about T-3 seconds, so that the camera at the site got the "tilt up" command just at T-0 and followed the ascent stage up.

        1. jonfr

          Re: And if there are any problems just call our hotline

          @ Mike Flugennock

          The Moon is 1 light second distance away from Earth. Making it a 2 second lag on all communication between Earth and the Moon in a two way communication.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’ll never work

    Vodafone won’t get the link up, they’ll blame signal strength or something and then ask for power and kit checks, and then phone it through to the deep space network to troubleshoot. Several days later they’ll phone asking for site access details and then claim they can’t get an engineer to site as it’s too remote. That’ll be th3 only true thing they will report.

  12. Area52

    Robo Calls

    So, I spend a billion dollars to get to the moon. Talking to my rover via 4G. Then beep, beep... incoming call...

    I press the key to answer...

    Slight pause...

    Robo voice comes on saying "Good news... Do not miss this great deal on carpet cleaning...."

    Can they make it to the moon to clean that moon dust out of my carpet?

    1. Blotto Bronze badge

      Re: Robo Calls

      It’ll likely be asking if you’ve been in a crash and want to claim for whiplash or ppi.

  13. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Commercialization of the moon...

    Will the rovers be miniature Audis? That was raise the bar for Musk a bit. Maybe put a fence around the Apollo landing site and charge admission?

    1. Carpet Deal 'em

      Re: Commercialization of the moon...

      > Maybe put a fence around the Apollo landing site and charge admission?

      The moon has gravity only a sixth as strong as earth's, so it'd have to be six times as high for the same effect. You can electrify it, but anybody who goes there will be wearing non-conductive gloves. And, of course, you'd need to make it thick and ugly just to avoid people breaking through it with wire or bolt cutters. Really, there's no practical way to prevent vandals from stealing them.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: Commercialization of the moon...

        So, what you're saying is that we need to build a wall around the Apollo landing sites. And Mexico are going to pay for it?

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "two Audi Lunar Quattro rovers"

    So they're guaranteed to crash into each other then?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      No turn signals.

    2. Chronos Silver badge

      There has to be two: They take it in turns tailgating each other.

  15. onefang Silver badge
    Alien

    So we can get Internet between Earth and Moon, but amanfrommars is shit outta luck, TCP/IP timeouts wont cope. Must be why we don't see him that often, he commutes.

  16. Barry Page

    Guaranteed that the Audi Lunar Rover will be blocking a cycle lane.

  17. jonfr

    No risk of interference from Earth

    There is no risk of interference from Earth since the distance is on average 350.000 km and the frequencies in use are already in use in Europe (but not in US). With all 4G transmitters being too small to reach the Moon (normal is 1W to 30W).

    I do wonder how much coverage this going to get on the Moon. Since on Earth the best 1800Mhz can give is 25 km. Weather is not a issue on the Moon but radiation levels are.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: No risk of interference from Earth

      jonfr suggested, "Since on Earth the best 1800Mhz can give is 25 km."

      MHz

      And why is 1800 MHz limited to 25 km? It's certainly not an inherent limitation of the band, as there is no such thing. Perhaps given a certain EIRP and 'waveform' technology, it might be a rough rule-of-thumb guideline. But it'd be wrong all the time.

      1. jonfr

        Re: No risk of interference from Earth

        That was the maximum range when it was used for GSM technology. It might even be shorter with LTE due to modulation differences. Unless they are using a modulation that can go longer distances than 25 km. As I understand it a QPSK modulation might work well on the Moon and elsewhere to get a good distance coverage (I don't know if it works with LTE). But there is a good chance that OFDM is just going to be used as the standard says.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: No risk of interference from Earth

          The only things different (radio-wise) about the Moon compared to the Earth are as follows.

          It should be radio-quieter (lack of people).

          No ionosphere.

          No atmosphere, no moisture.

          Horizon would be much closer (size of Moon).

          In general, modulation schemes ("waveforms") are getting more clever and more optimal each generation. That's simply a function of human intelligence.

          Other than that, it's system design and trade-offs.

          "QPSK modulation might work well on the Moon"

          I would hope so. If it didn't, then that would be a very interesting observation. :-)

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: No risk of interference from Earth

        "And why is 1800 MHz limited to 25 km?"

        Atmospheric attenuation and for GSM-style thingies, hard limits on allowable round trip times.

        On the moon the limiting issue will be the distance to the horizon - 2.43km - you'll need a pretty tall mast to overcome that or have it orbiting (in which case the handoff is because the "base station" is moving, not the rover.)

        In any case, 4G is _not_ limited to 1800MHz. Even in Europe it's used in a number of sub 1GHz bands

    2. Mike Flugennock

      Re: No risk of interference from Earth

      I'm also curious about how it'll be affected by the horizon dropping off so much sooner.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Entire surface of the moon, 1 cell tower. Yup, sounds like Vodafone.

  19. onefang Silver badge

    "The man that sold the Moon". Robert Heinlein wrote it, if I recall correctly, it was a very long time ago. I vaguely recall the plot centered around a guy using the law that people own everything above the land they buy, bought up lots of land around the Equator, since the Moon orbited around the Equator, he claimed he had bought the Moon, then proceeded to sell it, or bits of it, for a rather large profit. I could be entirely wrong about all of this.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      You are correct. Delos Harriman, his name was.

  20. FrankAlphaXII

    I'm sure someone in Alpharetta or Dallas is on the phone with Elon setting up something like this for American Theft and Thoughtlessness. I wouldn't doubt that the thought of a thousand dollar plus lunar roaming fee is making the C-suite salivate at the prospect.

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    Whats new is old again

    We can send 4G to the moon but we can't fix...

  22. Area52

    Radio Modem

    Do not need 4g on the moon. Just need a radio modem. Two frequencies, one for transmit and one for receive (Full Duplex). Basically the entire spectrum is available to use given the distance to the moon. Interference from earth is a trivial issue.

  23. Tom 64
    Windows

    > "we need to develop infrastructures..."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but people need things above 4G networks for even basic survival. You know things like clean, uncontaminated water, fresh food, radiation shielding, beer, etc etc

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Beware the Darkside

    Hope they get better reception than I do

  25. DanielR

    As if the snake oil radios scam couldn't be even more of a joke.

    This explains the joke exactly. HD lol.

    "The base station should be able to broadcast 4G using the 1800 MHz frequency band and send back live HD video feed of the Moon's surface, which will be broadcast to a global audience via a deep space link."

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      Joke

      Ah, but how much is their monthly data cap?

  26. Sceptic Tank
    Angel

    All this Ballyhoo...

    If there's a man on the moon

    Can you hear me calling you....

    (1980's South African chart topping song called "Man on the Moon" by Ballyhoo)

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: All this Ballyhoo...

      I thought REM did it first.

  27. dbayly

    Would it be possible to

    .. devise a way to connect an earth based phone to the moon base station, so that calls appear to originate from the moon ?

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Would it be possible to

      Try to connect it to Jodrell Bank antenna...

  28. DROP DATABASE

    No original thinking here

    Why restrict yourself to earth frequency restrictions.

  29. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Audi

    Rocket heading to the moon at 7.9 km/s - Audi following 6 inches behind it, flashing its headlights.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Audi

      Oh, can't wait for Audi to tease BMW and Mercedes in their advertisements...

      Merc and BMW most probably will also send rovers to the moon (or, even better, Mars) to one-up Audi in this then

  30. Peter Cochrane

    A pity we have a lot of trouble getting 3G in Suffolk. Thinking of moving to the moon!

  31. BigAndos

    They can't even manage decent 4G on my commute into London!

  32. Stu Mac

    Yes rather than leaving the planet PLEASE expend all of your efforts into mobile phone and 4G data cover (unbroken) on British rail links. London Southampton for instance (diabolical).

  33. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    What will Flat Earthers say?

    And the moon landing denialists?

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      "And the moon landing denialists?"

      Given the level of fakeness in telco and car companies ads, I don't believe they'll change their minds...

  34. larokus

    Priorities

    "LTE will be available in your area soon", they tell me. "We are upgrading in a priority order", they tell me.

  35. AbeSapian

    Telecommunication Ghettos

    How about bringing some high speed service to the telecommunication ghettos, like where I live.

  36. philthane

    Not O2 then?

    O2 can't bring any sort of connection, not even 2G, to vast areas of Bedfordshire. Been complaining about it for WEEKS. Two (at least) masts are 'down' they have no date for repair.

    1. onefang Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Not O2 then?

      Nope, not O2, there's no oxygen on the Moon.

  37. Mike Flugennock

    I'm actually fascinated by the idea. No, seriously.

    I'm having as much as anybody here enjoying a laff about mobile quality on Earth vs the Moon, but I've been reading up a bit lately on issues like communication infrastructure for lunar and Martian expeditions and thinking all hype aside, this'd be really cool if it worked.

    I'm even more fascinated by the idea of their visiting and imaging the Apollo 17 site in HD. I'm really curious to see what kind of "weathering" there is on the artifacts left behind -- the descent stages, the PLSS's, the ALSEP components, the LRVs.

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