Next-gen tech will make satellites key players in 5G

26 April 2018

5G satelite

Analytics company GlobalData says that 5G networks will be augmented by next-gen satellite capabilities, making satellite operators key players in the emerging communications ecosystem.

Next-generation – high throughput – satellites (HTS) are built on open architectures and will be much more flexible and easier to integrate into 5G infrastructure. In the 5G era, satellite’s new technology will address capacity and performance requirements.

The big increase in HTS’ capacity is due to spot beam technology which reuses high frequency across multiple, narrowly focused spot beams, usually offering coverage in the range of hundreds of kilometres, like in cellular networks. In contrast, older satellite technology uses a broad single beam to cover areas of thousands of kilometres. Also, HTS are generally more suited for the consumer market than previous generations of satellite.

Glen Hunt, Principal Analyst Telecom Technology and Software Analyst, GlobalData, reckons that HTS deployments are going to be dramatically less expensive than previous generations of satellite due to a combination of factors including advances in launch vehicles, miniaturisation of components and correspondingly lower power consumption.

A satellite future

The move towards satellites becoming so much more than a slow and unreliable last resort for ill-served rural areas is already well underway. Last June, London-based Avanti Communications won an €8.3 million contract to take the lead in integrating satellite communications into Europe’s 5G networks as the named coordinator of the Satellite & Terrestrial Network for 5G (SaT5G) project.

The SaT5G consortium has 16 partners, including BT, Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space France and a range of educational institutions. The SaT5G project will also incorporate the input of various mobile network operators. The project is scheduled for completion at the end of 2019 and requires Avanti to research, develop and validate key technologies to that end.

Meanwhile, regulators are searching for opportunities to clear spectrum bands for 5G and satellite communications. For example, the US Federal Communications Commission recently granted the application of Higher Ground for a blanket earth station licence to operate up to 50,000 earth stations, known as SatPaqs, to communicate with the multiple US-licensed satellites.

Hence it looks like the timing may be just right for next-gen satellites as open network architectures proliferate. The critical element, though, will be ensuring cooperation between satellite, wireless and fixed network operators to help usher in the next wave of satellite communications for the benefit of 5G in general.

Useful read: 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology | What Is It?

Image: Shutterstock

Technical writer

Annie Turner has been researching and writing about telecoms and related areas since the 1980s. As well as 5G, she writes about smart cities, IoT, platform business models, regulation, customer experience, data analytics and other stuff – both as a journalist and in corporate white papers.

Prepare your network site for 5G and IoT in a changing world

That’s where CommScope’s Site Solutions for Techies ebook comes in.

Sky Mobile customers now get 5G at no extra cost

Sky Mobile is now offering 5G connectivity for its users and at no extra cost

Samsung 5G Tech to Power BMW iNext

BMW will install Samsung’s 5G telematics control unit in iNext cars from 2021

Restricting 5G Suppliers Risks Higher Costs, Service Delays

Huawei-commissioned research estimates the costs of limiting competition in 5G network...

Vodafone 5G coverage increases at home and abroad

Vodafone 5G is now available in Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and more, for 37 UK locations...

Qualcomm, Siemens Test Private 5G Network

Proof-of-concept establishes private 5G network to test industrial wireless applications

As seen on:
Washington Post logo
Financial Times logo
Guardian logo
BBC logo
Telegraph logo
Forbes logo