Skip to main content

Satellite and Terrestrial Network for 5G

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SaT5G (Satellite and Terrestrial Network for 5G)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2020-02-29

The project vision is to develop cost effective “plug and play” satcom solutions for 5G to enable telecom operators and service providers to accelerate 5G deployment in all geographies and at the same time create new and growing market opportunities for satcom industry stakeholders.

In previous mobile network generations, the integration of satcom was based on proprietary tailored solutions at both satcom and mobile network level. It is widely recognised for 5G that “No single technology will satisfy all requirements”. SaT5G has a unique window of opportunity to define timely in 3GPP Release 16, the solutions that will natively integrate satcom in 5G.

The overall SaT5G goal is to deliver a ubiquitous end user of at least 50Mbps 5G broadband service and optimise satcom within the 5G network infrastructure to provide services in the following verticals: Media & Entertainment, Transportation, Health, Logistics and Agriculture Industries in developed and emerging markets.

The project objectives are to:
1. Leverage relevant ongoing 5G and satellite research activities to assess and define solutions integrating satellite into the 5G network architecture;
2. Develop the commercial value propositions for satellite-based network solutions for 5G;
3. Define and develop key technical enablers for the identified research challenges;
4. Validate key technical enablers in a lab test environment;
5. Demonstrate selected features and use cases with in orbit satellites;
6. Contribute to the standardisation at ETSI and 3GPP of the features enabling the integration of satcom solutions in 5G.
During the first reporting period, all work packages (WPs) kicked-off and overall the project is progressing well.

In WP2, the project reviewed the state-of-the-art in the SatCom and 3GPP domains, selected four Satellite Use Cases for eMBB and related scenarios for each to be further investigated. Subsequently, it defined a generic value chain for each scenario that along with the description of the scenario fed into the definition of the business, operational and technical requirements. For the business modelling work, partners mainly focused on the development of the generic methodology for cost, allocation and business modelling and an initial validation of the different models on a specific scenario.

WP3 defined an approach for architecture definition and it produced an overview of satellite systems with a focus on characteristics of the satellites that might have significant impacts on the 5G network when introducing a satellite link for backhauling (e.g. bandwidth, latency, etc.). It studied the positiotioning of satellite links in the 3GPP system architecture and identified all the possible implementation options, suggesting finally the SaT5G reference architecture view. Further work has also been done on defining the more detailed architecture for backhaul and caching and multicast.

WP4, which relates to the technical work under each Research Pillar (RP), has identified the features and schemes that need to be studied and started investigating how the outcomes of the RPs will feed into the demos. Although the work is still underway, we have already demonstrated some results from RPI and RPVI at EuCNC 2018 with a first-of-its-kind live over-the-air demo towards satellite integration into 5G.

WP5 completed the initial planning and preparation for the demos. The 5GIC testbed has continued its development during the period to be pre 3GPP Release 15 standard compliant. In the ZII testbed, work has progressed on the aircraft in-cabin mock-up for trials and logistics for the demos have been completed. The UOULU testbed has also progressed following the project advancements on developing a modified NR interface for use in the demo.

On dissemination, the project is on track to meet its targets with 2 journal publications, 1 book chapter, more than 10 public project presentations and a demo at EuCNC 2018. Inputs to standards are also progressing with numerous contributions to 3GPP and ETSI and 3 technical reports completed; 2 in 3GPP and 1 in CEPT.
SaT5G research and development is split into six pillars:

1) Research Pillar I - ‘Implementing 5G SDN &NFV in satellite Networks’: will provide the virtualisation of the satellite functional components that will allow the integration of satellite and mobile network elements and support satellite system fit in the 5G environment. Expected Results: Virtualised satellite terminal functions developed for integration into the demo.

2) Research Pillar II - ‘Integrated Network Management & Orchestration’: will allow the orchestration and manage end-to-end the integrated network slices involving satellite and mobile. Expected Results: Management and orchestration functionality for integration into the demo.

3) Research Pillar III - ‘Multilink & Heterogeneous Transport’: will improve the user QoE by intelligently delivering traffic across the satellite and terrestrial components of the network. Expected Results: Multilink functionality for integration into the demo.

4) Research Pillar IV - ‘Harmonisation of satcom with 5G control and user plane’: needed to include in satellite communications the 3GPP layer 2 & higher protocol layer and possibly also the physical layer. Expected Results: A software implementation of adaptation layers to run 3GPP layer 2 & higher layer protocols on top of Satellite DVB physical layer with lab test validation of a pre-standard 5G stack in emulated satellite channel conditions.

5) Research Pillar V - ‘Extending 5G security to satellites’: will validate that the 5G network security features will operate seamlessly over the satellite elements. Expected Results: Lab emulation and validation of the extended security features.

6) Research Pillar VI - ‘Caching and Multicast for Optimised Content and NFV Distribution’: will exploit the additional satcom over mobile cells to more efficiently deliver content to the user. Expected Results: An integrated Mobile Edge Computing function with caching and multicast for integration into the demo.

Potential Impacts:

SaT5G will enhance innovation capacity by building a satellite/terrestrial hybrid open standards-based emulation test platform incorporating the prototypes from the RPs in 5G Innovation Centre in Surrey along with enhancing the Zodiac Aerospace and University of Oulu testbeds specifically for mobility demos and validation of Research Pillar IV respectively. This will bring together satellite and terrestrial research communities, engage satellite into 5G standardisation and design of new satellite generations based on the 3GPP architecture and converged RAN.

The seamless integration of satellite networks into 5G will allow services to cover new locations otherwise unreached benefiting both terrestrial and satellite operators. Growth in rural vertical markets has historically been slow due to limited mobile enabled service to drive technology innovation. 5G technologies with satellite into new locations for existing and new service providers will create competition and stimulate new technology enabled services in the vertical markets.

SaT5G will address the digital divide in Europe extending 5G coverage and enabling rapid expansion of 5G to developing countries. Through SaT5G we will close and not widen the digital divide in Europe and emerging markets, with more equal SLAs and socio-economic opportunities in all markets.
This image depicts the concept of the project including the research pillars.