New advances in 5G standards are creating opportunities to integrate non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) into an interoperable, standardized wireless experience across the entire globe. 5G Americas announced the release of its latest white paper covering the role of 5G in satellite networks entitled, “5G and Non-Terrestrial Networks.”

Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, said, “New use cases become possible when 5G’s unique capabilities expand to more inaccessible regions with the help of NTNs. Operators face interesting opportunities and challenges as new 5G standards pave the way towards increasing integration between terrestrial and NTNs.”

According to the white paper, 5G use cases for NTNs can include, but are not limited to connectivity options for enhanced mobile broadband that includes fixed and mobile cell, as well as multi-connectivity and wide and local area IoT and public safety applications. Additional uses include improved network resilience, edge network and mobile cell hybrid connectivity for enhanced mobile broadband—as well as “Direct to Node” broadcast.

“5G and Non-Terrestrial Networks” covers satellite-based communication in detail that can potentially play an important role in leveraging communication infrastructure to deliver 5G services in the future and bridge the digital divide. Topics in this white paper include:

  • Industry Overview and insight into how satellite-based architecture leverages geostationary Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit and low Earth orbit (LEO) systems which can collectively provide coverage across altitudes ranging from 36,000 km to 400 km
  • Different potential use cases for NTNs in a 5G ecosystem
  • Standards evolution for NTNs
  • Satellite-based NTN architectures
  • RAN Impact covering core network impact, security in NTNs, end-to-end quality of service aspects and positing in NTNs
  • Deployment options with NTNs over satellites
  • Network service continuity.

The white paper also explains how 5G standards increasingly can make NTNs and satellite segments part of the 5G ecosystem and connectivity infrastructure. The white paper examines additional factors like different spectrum frequencies used by satellites, different operating modes that allow for co-existence, roaming and data sharing and how moving and fixed-beam systems impact 5G networks.

According to Sridhar Rajagopal, senior vice president and Senior Fellow, Technology & Strategy, Mavenir and 5G Americas working group leader, “Integration and co-existence of satellite and terrestrial systems has become important as we move beyond 5G and will require increased standardization and collaboration between the satellite and telecom industry. This will benefit both satellite and mobile operators by enabling new services, additional access availability and providing remote and rural areas with increased connectivity. There have been good advances made with 3GPP Rel-17 and there is much more to be addressed for co-existence as these integrated systems get deployed.”

Rahul Pal, principal engineer, T-Mobile and 5G Americas working group leader further added, “3GPP Release 17 will introduce new network topologies into the 3GPP specifications that include high-altitude platforms and LEO and geosynchronous orbit satellites. New constellations of satellite deployments and work at 3GPP have provided a possible pathway for closer integration of terrestrial and NTNs.”