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  • How do satellite systems fit into 5G?

    How do satellite systems fit into 5G?

    Date: 14.12.2016

    Category: 5G, Mobile Networks

    5G Satellite Systems

    5G Satellite

    As we are bombarded from all over the places with the repeated phrase that “5G will not be only about higher speeds and shortened latency, but it’s the whole ecosystem change”, the question arises, do the satellite systems also fit in this picture? Based on recent research and 3GPP standardization discussion, the answer seems – yes, they are considered as a part of the next generation wireless. This post presents some use cases for application of the satellite systems in 5G ecosystem.


    Benefits of satellite systems

    The benefits of the satellite systems can be as follows:

    • Global reach – provide coverage over the whole world for the land (of course with the limited reach indoor), and sea as well as can reach the aircrafts;
    • High efficiency for distributing large volume of data – efficient broadcasting capabilities and content caching;
    • Synchronized delivery assurance – GPS-like synchronization usage.


    Use cases for satellite systems

    Due to their key features as presented above they may find their application in the 5G context in the following example use cases:

    • Broadcast services – as they do now for digital TV;
    • Broadband access everywhere – to reach places that the cost of the deployment of the regular mobile network is too high;
    • Lifeline communications disaster areas – where the connectivity of the mobile networks disappear;
    • High user mobility – to decrease signalling and handover rates, as well as improve reliability by decreasing service interruption;
    • Wireless backhaul – where it’s too hard or too expensive to deploy terrestrial backhaul;
    • Aircraft services – to provide onboard connectivity;
    • Massive IoT – for example for freight tracking / sensors connectivity when traveling over oceans and seas.


    The 5G use case triangle

    If we look at the above, we can see that satellite systems can provide benefits to all main 5G use cases when integrated within 5G ecosystem, for example:

    • Enhanced MBB: provide services onboard aircrafts; accelerate service deployment in underserved areas; fast service setup for special events; provide backhaul and access links;
    • Massive MTC: extend service coverage; provide access links;
    • Ultra-reliable MTC: improve service reliability; provide access links;



    In summary, and simplifying a bit, the satellite systems can help 5G to be a really ubiquitous system acting as a complementary connectivity to the cellular mobile infrastructure, where:

    • Cellular networks are very good in dense areas and can be deployed to provide indoor coverage where the satellite systems cannot reach due to penetration losses and large pathloss.
    • Satellite systems can provide coverage over the large remote areas that are uncovered by cellular systems due to cost or reachability reasons and/or upon cellular terrestrial systems failures (e.g. upon disaster / earthquake).



    [1] “The role of satellites in 5G”, B. Evans, et al., EUSPICO 2015

    [2] 3GPP RP-161990


    Marcin Dryjanski, Ph.D.

    Marcin Dryjanski received his Ph.D. in telecommunications from the Poznan University of Technology in September 2019. During the past 15 years, Marcin has served as R&D Engineer, Lead Researcher, R&D Consultant, Technical Trainer, Technical Leader and Board Member. He has been providing expert-level courses in the area of 5G/LTE/LTE-Advanced for leading mobile operators and vendors. In addition to that, Marcin was a work-package leader in EU-funded research projects aiming at radio interface design for 5G including FP-7 5GNOW and FP-7 SOLDER. He co-authored a number of research papers targeting 5G radio interface design and a book "From LTE to LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G" published by Artech House. Marcin is co-founder of Grandmetric and co-founder and CEO at Rimedo Labs, currently focusing on Open RAN systems.

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