Satellite communication: 5G for remote locations and the city
News from Feb. 12, 2021
Initiated and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), Fraunhofer FOKUS and partners have developed in the SATis5 project a 5G test environment that brings together satellite and terrestrial communication technologies. The project team has evaluated various use cases in a real over-the-air test environment, proving this technology convergence. In the whitepaper “Satellite is 5G”, satellite technology's advantages in a 5G network are presented in detail.
Being software-based, 5G is a highly flexible network. It permits the customization of an individual, on-demand network with specific latency, capacity, and security characteristics. To meet these different requirements also over-the-air, different access and backhaul technologies can be integrated, such as satellite networks. A deep convergence between these technologies – meaning that the same functionality is used for both systems – would provide a cost-effective integration and thus an easier way to accept the heterogeneous systems.
In the SATis5 project, Fraunhofer FOKUS and its partners were commissioned by ESA to develop the first 5G test environment comprising satellite and terrestrial communication technology (“SATis5 satellite-terrestrial proof of concept testbed”). In the recently published white paper “Satellite is 5G” the project consortium presents the test environment as well as its evaluation of various 5G use cases that are only possible or become more powerful through satellite networks integration; for example:
- a temporary, high-performance network for fairs and festivals where a large quantity of multimedia content is distributed,
- a temporary and, if required, worldwide network for disaster relief, as well as
- (private) networks on remote locations such as freighters or oil rigs.
To be able to benefit of the high customization capabilities of 5G networks, in the SATis5 test environment, the core network of Fraunhofer FOKUS is used. The Open5GCore is the world's first standards-based and vendor-independent 5G core network. Open5Gcore enables “standalone” (SA) operation, i.e. a stand-alone 5G core network, as opposed to “non-standalone” solutions that combine 5G base stations with existing 4G core networks, providing opportunities for full independence from 4G networks and high adaptability to different network sizes.
The test environment is available for evaluation of further technologies and use cases.
Dr. Marius Corici, Deputy Director of the Software-based Networks business unit, summarizes the results of the white paper as follows: “Within 5G, for each network deployment, the appropriate network must be provided. In most of the cases, this is only possible by integration satellite networks. Therefore, I am convinced that in the future, even with regard to 6G, we need to offer a fully converged communications network. The SATis5 test environment demonstrates that satellite technology today already possesses the necessary degree of flexibility and adaptability for this.”
- Fraunhofer Institute IIS
- Newtec Communications GmbH
- SES TechCom
- Technische Universität Berlin
- Universität der Bundeswehr München