The next generation of mobile network standards, 5G, will be of great significance to the overall telecommunications sector as ever-increasing focus is put on convergence and full re-configurability of services and networks.
This development will encompass the implementation of several new paradigms, such as Software Defined Networks and Network Function Virtualisation (SDN/NFV), which would, for example, enable the possibility to: Reconfigure/adapt networks depending on congestion issues; Deploy new services on the fly' using existing hardware via virtualisation; Use a variety of transmission mediums and air interfaces interchangeably, depending on the end user needs and required quality of experience. 5G is therefore widely seen as an enabler for increased satellite/terrestrial network integration, as the necessary additional flexibility of the network infrastructure could potentially make the use of satellite resources easier than at present. Various studies have identified scenarios that could benefit from greater satellite/terrestrial network integration and it also appears that the potential offered by 5G will create new needs where a satellite component could be highly competitive.
The purpose of the proposed activity is therefore to investigate and identify the characteristics of a next generation, "5G enabled" satellite in order to identify the potential relevance of satellite in the 5G ecosystem and specify itspotential role in this framework. One of the principal goals is to quantify the actual satellite payload requirements in terms of the flexibility needed to best meet the needs of 5G. While the expression "software defined satellite" is widely used, the requirements the satellite industry needs to address while remaining commercially competitive, have yet to be clearly identified.
The objective of this study will therefore be, based on the previous work already achieved within the Agency: ESA/JCB(2017)2, rev.2 Page 14 Toanalyse and quantify the level/type of flexibility needed in next-generation satellites, to address the relevant 5G scenarios wheresatellites could play a relevant role; To address the possible technologies / topologies / concepts answering those needs and evaluate their relevance towards a commercial business case. Such an evaluation will allow the definition of precise development roadmaps and clear recommendations for: The development of new system concepts for the next generation of "5G compatible" satellites; The new technologies to be developed in that respect; Future 5G standard requirements to ensure the place of a satellite componentin its architecture.