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Maturing satellite communication technologies


The aim of this topic is to demonstrate, in a relevant environment, technologies, systems and sub-systems for satellite communications. The proposed work should address and demonstrate significant improvements in miniaturisation, power reduction, efficiency, performance, flexibility, resilience, versatility, security and/or increased functionality and should demonstrate complementarity to activities already funded by Member States and the European Space Agency (e.g. the ARTES programme).

Proposals that demonstrate technologies targeting TRL 6 are welcome.

In this context, proposals are sought with relevance for space in the following fields:

  • Advanced communication technologies for feeder or service links, preparing satellite networking in the Terabit-throughput including optical communication and RF communication at high frequencies (Q/V/W). Optical communication technologies will indicatively include laser communication terminals for ground and satellite segment. This could include transmitter and receiver technologies, hybrid RF-photonic technologies, pointing and tracking approaches, ground station design, site diversity technique to adapt to weather conditions, turbulence mitigation techniques (like Adaptive Optics, Predistortion and Transmitter Diversity), gateway management and interface with ground networks.
  • Photonics technology (for high capacity reconfigurable payloads).
  • Active antennas building blocks at different frequencies up to Ka/Ku bands and higher, GaN SSPA - Solid State Power Amplifier.
  • Flexible repeater (equipment enabling flexible frequency plans, flexible channelization, evolution to new RF bands such as Q- and V-band, etc.).
  • Reconfigurable coverages, flexible interbeam connectivity, antijamming and interference mitigation techniques, on-board spectrum monitoring, interference management and support for full duplex relaying.
  • New generation of waveforms and related protocols, as well as photonic building blocks and technologies, devoted to seamless integration of SatCom Systems with terrestrial networks (including hybrid terrestrial-satellite network architectures) with specific focus on mobile machine to machine (m2m) applications, high-security communication services, future internet architectures, SDN and Cloud Computing paradigms, and security needs.
  • End to end system enablers in telecommunications: technical enablers to increase the security, efficiency and performance of satellite-based communications solutions for weather conditions adaptation and optimisation of EO data distribution.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In projects to be funded under this topic participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged.

Today, it is a critical challenge for Europe to establish a level playing field with its global competitors and support activities to bridge the digital gap across European regions and deliver broadband and telecommunications services to under-served areas and populations.

In the mid to long-term, the competitiveness of the space sector and its ability to serve EU policies, notably the Digital Single Market, depends on the continuous integration of pertinent technologies and the availability of demonstrated/validated systems and sub-systems. While European companies have managed to capture a significant share of the global commercial telecommunications satellite market, technological advances must consolidate competitive positions. An objective of the sector is to move towards the Terabit satellite systems (space and ground segment). Other approaches target constellations in lower Earth orbit.

  • Increase the maturity level of key satellite communication technologies with clear and measurable progress over the state of the art in terms of step changes in technical capabilities, as evidenced by improvements in performance.
  • Contributing by 2020 to a more competitive positioning of satellite communication manufacturers in the marketplace, in terms of their penetration in new or emerging markets.
  • Greater industrial relevance of research actions and output as demonstrated by deeper involvement of industry, including SMEs, and stronger take-up of research results.
  • Fostering links between academia and industry, accelerating and broadening technology transfer.