For mobile operators, 5G is far more than a faster version of the 4G/LTE standard. 5G will be an entirely new networking architecture — “a network of networks” — with multiple access technologies such as Wi-Fi, small cells, and traditional mobile wireless networks as well as terrestrial and satellite.
Satellites will play a vital role in future 5G networks, and the benefits to users, including consumers, governments, and industry will come not from individual technologies, but from the quantum difference these services will make to mankind.
3GPP said the incorporation of satellite networks will help enable 5G service rollouts in un- and under-served areas, enhance reliability and increase service availability everywhere to the benefit of critical communications and transportation applications.
Satellite “Sweet Spots” for the 5G
The below four “sweet spots” leverage the advantages of satellites, high bandwidth, and ubiquitous coverage to enable and extend terrestrial 5G networks:
- Trunking and Head-end feed: which addresses high-speed trunking of video, IoT, and other data to a central site with further distribution to local cell sites.
- Backhauling and Tower Feed: which is about high-speed backhaul connectivity to individual cells with the ability to multi-case the same content across a large coverage – it could also be aggregated IoT traffic.
- Communications on the Move: is about high-speed backhaul connectivity to the individual in motion terminals on planes, vehicles, trains, and vessels with the ability to multicast the same content (video/firmware updates OTA/other non-video data) across a large coverage area e.g. for local storage and consumption.
- Hybrid Multiplay: which is about high-speed connectivity including backhaul to individual homes and offices, with the ability to multicast the same content across a large coverage area. It also allows for efficient BB connectivity for aggregated IoT data.
The satellite involvement is real and ESOA and its members are working within 3GPP to define the standards required to ensure the necessary technology integration takes place. Specific items are under study in relevant 3GPP Task Groups and will become part of 3GPP’s Release 17.