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The on-going development of 5th Generation (5G) communication networks provides a unique opportunity for a seamless integration of satellites with terrestrial networks, an opportunity that the space industry should capitalise on by working closely with the terrestrial sector in areas of mutual interest, such as interoperability, network orchestration and spectrum use.
This was the main message of a conference held in Brussels on 27 - 28 June 2017, organised jointly by the European Space Agency and European Space Policy Institute (ESPI). Attended by all the leading European satellite operators and representatives from three directorates of the European Commission, the event built upon the issuing of an ESA and space industry Joint Statement on 21 June at the Paris Air and Space Show. The statement noted that its 17 signatories intend to reinforce the initiatives on satellite and terrestrial 5G convergence that are being stimulated in Europe in particular by the European Commission as part of the Horizon2020 and 5G Public Private Partnership (5GPPP) programmes.
To this end a series of 5G service trials will be undertaken, harmonised with the EC Action Plan and integrated within the wider trial roadmap that is facilitated by the 5G Infrastructure Association, as part of ESA’s Satellite for 5G Initiative. These trails will involve the participation of terrestrial telecommunication infrastructure and stakeholders, with priority given to vertical markets in which satellites can play a key role, such as transport, public safety, media and entertainment.
The key objective is to develop and demonstrate the added value that satellite technology brings to 5G, in terms of facilitating Pan-European and global coverage, resilience, mobility and security.
“Satellite for 5G is both a challenge and a huge opportunity, says Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications. “With this Joint Statement, the satellite industry demonstrates its commitment to working with the terrestrial telecom players, the European Commission, the spectrum regulators and the key vertical markets, so that jointly we can realise the full scale of the potential that satellite can bring to 5G.”
Interested parties may apply to sign up to the Joint Statement and the associated activities by emailing 5G@esa.int