ESA/ESPI conference on ‘Space and Satcom for 5G: European Transport and Connected Mobility'

With an emphasis on European Transport and Connected Mobility

Profound changes lie ahead for the transport and communications sectors, both in Europe and worldwide. While technological innovation and disruptive business models spur the demand for new mobility services, transportation systems are developing towards connected mobility.

These changes and how we should respond to them are addressed by a number of recent initiatives. The European Space Agency, the European Space Policy Institute and the European Commission are all taking an active role, partnering with industry from the transport, communications and space sectors to develop joint strategies.

This is being done through a number of consultation events with decision makers (see details below) and the associated development of formal strategies and action plans. The latter include the European Strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems1 and the Space Strategy for Europe2, which underlines the role satellites can play in providing cost-effective solutions within future 5G networks, where many users will require both space data and uninterrupted connectivity.

ESA recently convened a 5G Round Table in Paris to determine how the space industry should join forces to work with the terrestrial sector in areas of mutual interest, such as the definition of interoperability, network orchestration and spectrum. It is recognised that the choice of communication technology should be transparent to the end user and based upon location, type of service and cost efficiency, with 5G and satellite communication integrated into the future hybrid communication mix. One vertical market to be addressed is the transport sector, including connected cars, trucks, ships, trains, airplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Round Table participants agreed to issue a Statement of Intent for Space and SATCOM for 5G in Europe, offering a strategic vision open to other stakeholders; and to set up a task force to develop a 5G Satcom plan of action, including a trials road map. In consultation with its Members States and in coordination with the EC, ESA will then take steps towards the creation of a 5G satcom programmatic framework that can support future R&D and trials.

As a next step, ESA and ESPI are co-hosting a conference in Brussels on 27 - 28 June 2017, where both policy and technology aspects related to 5G and future space-based solutions will be discussed. The event includes participation from the EC, with top-level participation from DG-CONNECT, DG-GROW and DG-MOVE.

Key to a successful outcome will be a good balance of participation from institutional players, the space sector and the transport sector. Accordingly the agenda has a focus on the markets in which satellite communications and other space applications provide strong value-add and complementarity to terrestrial 5G solutions. Participants will discuss the user and market needs on the demand-side and the possible solutions on the supply-side.

The aim of the event is to outline a way ahead that may include public-private partnership models, private investments, the EC 5G Action Plan and ESA R&D support activities. The findings and recommendations will be reflected in an executive report, which will be made available to key decision makers and institutions.



1A European Strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems, a milestone towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility. COM(2016)766 Final, 30.11.2016

2Space Strategy for Europe. COM(2016)705 Final, 26.10.2016