Technical challenges explored to ‘plug and play’ satellites in 5G

The 5G communications system represents far more than just the next generation of terrestrial mobile services. It will drive a convergence of fixed and mobile services, introduce a new set of technologies and standards, create a network of networks and facilitate communications between everyone and everything, whilst focusing on some key vertical markets.

However, there are a number of technical challenges that need to be addressed for the realisation of cost effective “plug and play” satcom solutions for 5G. These include:

  • Virtualisation of satcom network functions to ensure compatibility with the 5G Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) architecture;
  • Allowing cellular network management system to control satcoms’ radio resources and service;
  • Developing link aggregation scheme for small cell connectivity mitigating Quality of Service (QoS) and latency imbalance between satellite and cellular access;
  • Leveraging 5G features/technologies in satcom;
  • Optimising and harmonising key management and authentication methods between cellular and satellite access technologies;
  • Optimal integration of the multicast benefits in 5G services for both content delivery and Virtualised Network Function (VNF) distribution.

The SaT5G project has announced the completion of several successful demonstrations of 5G over satellite at an industry-briefing event held in the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey. The SaT5G project is a Horizon 2020 collaborative project, funded by the European Commission, which has the vision to develop a cost-effective plug-and-play solution to integrate satellite communications with 5G networks.

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