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Satellite and 5G

Satellite and 5G – Better Together

When it comes to mission-critical communications, there should be no technological dogma. Satellite and cellular communications can work together in a hybrid network, delivering seamless connectivity across diverse geographies and terrains.

This powerful combination harnesses the strengths of both — the widespread coverage of satellite technology and the high-speed, low-latency features of 5G — to maximize performance and reliability of your mission-critical communications when you need it most.

Satellite orbits-GEO-MEO-LEO-Diagram

Satellite communications have experienced rapid growth over the past few years with the launch of new Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations that deliver worldwide coverage with lower latencies.

Use Cases

First Responders

First responder vehicles, when in rural or remote areas with limited cellular coverage, can rely on satellite communications for uninterrupted critical communication. Upon returning to areas with cellular coverage, the system automatically switches to 5G for high-speed data transfer, including video offload.


With satellite communications, government and military vehicles, as well as remote command posts can move in and out of remote areas without loosing mission-critical connectivity. Satellites are used as the primary communications channel in truly remote areas or as a failover when cellular communication is available.

Remote Operations

Remote mining operations can utilize wireless routers to connect manned or autonomous vehicles on site. When within the range of a private network, routers use cellular signals for connectivity. When vehicles are outside of the private network, the routers automatically switch over to satellite communications.

Forest Service Firefighting

Firefighting teams are often dropped into very remote areas with no cellular or radio communications available. The small size of LEO satellite communications equipment can be combined with battery-operated routers to create a node-in-a-box communications system that can be set up in minutes.

AirLink® Solutions

AirLink Pro router solutions directly interface with various communication sources — public and private cellular, satellite, microwave.
Depending on your specific deployment environment, either could serve as a reliable backup, supporting your specific communication needs.
ES-Best Communications Channel- Diagram-F

How does it work?

All AirLink routers can support satellite communications.

The satellite receiver connects directly to the AirLink router through an Ethernet LAN port, providing the router with an additional WAN link to steer traffic to.

The AirLink router can automatically find the best QoS WAN link — public cellular, satellite, Wi-Fi, private cellular — or choose a WAN based on failover criteria of your choice.

Failover rules can be set based on criteria that matters to your specific use case – for example depending on the type of application (video vs. low data rate telemetry), signal strength, vehicle location or cost of each channel.


The AirLink Difference

Intelligent and Seamless Hot Failover

For mission-critical applications switching between satellite and cellular networks needs to be instantaneous and invisible to the user.
AirLink new-gen routers leverage our patented Cognitive Wireless technology and our mobile-optimized VPN (ACM) to ensure intelligent and seamless hot failover.
ES-Intelligent Hot Failover-Diagram-F

Purpose-Built Hardware

Our highly ruggedized Pro routers are purpose-built for mission-critical operations and can be deployed in your harsh industrial and mobile environments.

Built to last, they are designed with a comprehensive approach to ruggedness to keep you connected, even in extreme conditions.


Industry Partners


Semtech has teamed up with premier satellite system integrators to simplify the planning, deployment and management of your satellite/cellular solution.

Choose the level of support and services that best fits your needs and benefit from the expertise of specialists in your industry.
Together, we make mission-critical connectivity simpler.

Pierson wireless
Lyman communication


The Convergence: Satellite and 5G for Mission-Critical Success

Discover how Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Communications and 5G can work together to ensure your teams remain connected, no matter the location.
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Meet the Airlink® XR60: The Power of 5G in the Palm of Your Hand

Join our experts from Semtech (formerly Sierra Wireless) as they delve into the game-changing capabilities of the XR60 for your application, and discover how the XR60 can be the driving force behind your operational transformation. Watch now!
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Frequently Asked Questions

The primary difference between LEO satellites, like those used by Starlink, and GEO satellites lies in their respective orbits and the implications of those orbits. LEO satellites orbit closer to Earth (up to 2000 km) and move faster, allowing them to cover the entire planet but requiring a network of many satellites for continuous coverage. On the other hand, GEO satellites are positioned much further away (around 35,786 km) and remain stationary relative to a specific point on Earth, providing constant coverage over a fixed area but with higher latency due to the greater distance.

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Yes, while Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications offer numerous advantages, it comes with certain limitations, especially in mobile applications. This is where your AirLink routers step in. They offer a 5G cellular failover that is not only intelligent but also support seamless transition. You can also leverage our Cognitive Wireless technology to split traffic between your satellite and cellular links, helping you maximize the benefits of your data plan.

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Yes, this is particularly beneficial in remote or rural areas where cellular service may be unreliable or unavailable. Satellite communications failover ability is also a useful asset in times of natural disasters when cell towers may be disabled. The decision to use cellular or satellite as the primary connectivity solution largely depends on your specific use case, along with the location and environmental conditions of your deployment.

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Yes, all AirLink routers can connect with your satellite receiver via an Ethernet LAN port. For a seamless failover experience, we recommend our new-gen routers powered by our Cognitive Wireless technology.

Find your router

Cognitive Wireless, a patented technology by Semtech, gives you full control over your data’s network journey. It allows you to set specific rules to guide traffic to the most suitable LAN or WAN networks, or even distribute traffic between networks, based on data type, network changes, or router locations. For instance, you can set your router to switch from cellular to satellite when 5G signal strength dips below a set level, preventing lag time from signal drops. You can also prioritize critical data to utilize the best available WAN link, while directing less urgent traffic to other links. When combined with our mobile-optimized VPN (ACM), this WAN switching occurs seamlessly, supporting uninterrupted communication.

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