Based on preliminary studies in 3GPP Release 15-16, version 17 envisages the use non-terrestrial network (NTN), for 5G mobile communications via satellites. Today, Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales announced a partnership to examine the feasibility of 5G networks and devices.
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a global collaboration of standardization bodies for standardization mobile communications, is an international collaboration. Release 17 is in its final stages. It will be released this year to freeze the protocol coding receive. Releases 18 and 19 are still being developed. Innovations as well as the current status can both be seen in the 3GPP’s work program.
5G via satellites from low Earth orbit
Release 17 allows for 5G network implementation via satellites even in low earth orbit (LEO) for the first-time. Thales, Ericsson and Qualcomm have all conducted simulations and studies. The network supplier and mobile phone specialist wants to begin joint testing for 5G NTN use on smartphones. Future smartphones will be able to offer 5G reception worldwide, even in remote areas or high seas.
Space-based grids can be used as backup in case of network outages or other natural disasters. 5G NTN will provide secure communication channels for governments. These tests will validate various technological components necessary for 5G NTN operation, including the associated 5G smartphones and satellite payload. It is also necessary to determine if 5G NTN can be supported with current smartphones’ form factors. The corresponding devices will become satellite phones, which are much larger than they were before.
First ground tests in France
The ground will be the only place where the space reality will be replicated, and the first tests will be conducted in France. Simulated conditions include the distribution of frequencies, latency and use of end devices at different locations around the globe. Ericsson will test a 5G virtual radio access network (RAN) stack that allows for propagation of 5G frequencies through space and the Earth’s atmosphere using fast-moving satellites.
Thales is interested in determining whether satellites for 5G Network Telecommunications Network (GNT) can be carried as a payload. Qualcomm provides smartphone testing devices to test whether future 5G smartphones are capable of handling 5G NTN. Erik Ekudden (SVP and CTO of Ericsson), commented on today’s announcement. He said that it was too early to predict when the first satellite for 5G NTN would launch, but that ground testing is an essential requirement.