Through the project leadership of Keysight Technologies, the Horizon Europe-funded 6G-SANDBOX project signed a memorandum of understanding agreement to establish an Open Innovation Laboratory with the European Space Agency (ESA) to advance the integration of satellites with terrestrial 5G and 6G networks.
The focus of the collaboration is adding the integration of non-terrestrial network (NTN) capabilities into the 6G-SANDBOX testbed by incorporating satellite connectivity across a range of different orbits, including geostationary and low earth orbit, with the ESA 5G/6G Hubs. This will enable the 6G-SANDBOX testbed to provide validation novel NTN topologies through additional 5G and 6G test capabilities to the improve the results of NTN systems experiments.
"For 6G-SANDBOX, the cooperation with ESA will reinforce the interest to support experimentation on integrated terrestrial/satellite systems as part of the evolution towards 6G," said Michael Dieudonné, 6G-SANDBOX coordinator, representing Keysight. “In line with the goals of Horizon Europe's Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU), this will further enable the competitiveness of Europe's communications industry through advances in 6G technologies."
6G-SANDBOX was launched in January 2023 by Keysight in collaboration with 16 partners to create a pan-European testbed for 6G experimentation. The project will combine digital and physical nodes to deliver fully configurable, manageable and controllable end-to-end networks for validating new technologies and research advancements for 6G. In addition, 6G-SANBOX will enable entities across the EU to test promising technical 6G enablers, including network automation, cybersecurity, digital twins and artificial intelligence, as well as technologies that streamline energy consumption.
"The significance of this agreement lies in the cooperation among European research, technology, and innovation programs," said Javier Benedicto, acting director of connectivity and secured communications at ESA. "Through the combined efforts of the European SNS program, concentrating on 5G/6G terrestrial networks, and ESA's endeavors in exploring the role of satellites in future networks, we aim to facilitate the integration and interoperability between terrestrial and space-based networks."
ESA is an intergovernmental organization with a mission to provide for and to promote cooperation among European states in space research and technology and their space applications, which includes building out ubiquitous connectivity for Earth. Since 2021, ESA's 5G/6G Hub has showcased terrestrial and NTN convergence, providing market solutions enabled by 5G and upcoming 6G over satellite. The Hub is part of ESA's Space for 5G/6G and Sustainable Connectivity Strategic Program, established to promote space networks in 5G/6G standards and support the space industry in developing technologies, products and services that bridge the digital divide.
6G-SANDBOX has received funding from the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking under the EU's Horizon Europe research and innovation program under grant agreement number 101096328.