How can the space and satellite communications community join forces to play a significant role in 5G, the mobile communication solution of the coming decade? That was the question tackled by some fifty participants in a 5G Round Table that was organised by the Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (TIA) Directorate at ESA Headquarters in Paris. In attendance were high-level representatives from the satellite industry, representing more than fifteen different satellite operators, service providers and manufacturers, and ESA National Delegates.
Magali Vaissiere, Director of ESA’s Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Directorate underlined “We want to provide the European satellite industry with the opportunity to be part of the cross-industry 5G ecosystem from the beginning, to shape infrastructure developments and deployment and influence system and network capabilities, to fully exploit the business opportunities of an emerging 5G market”.
The discussions confirmed that satellites intrinsically provide the right attributes for many 5G services, in particular when coverage, mobility, resilience and security are of importance. Participants agreed that this would provide a unique opportunity for the satellite community to play a significant role in 5G and that 5G represents a very important business opportunity.
Industry welcomed ESA’s invitation as timely and was favourable to join forces to represent the satellite interests in 5G and to demonstrate the relevance of satellite in the context of 5G services and business areas. Participants also agreed on the importance to work closely with the terrestrial sector in the definition of interoperability, network orchestration and spectrum issues and to cooperate with non-space user segments and downstream industries.
Considering the positive response, ESA confirmed its availability to move forward with the preparation of possible support actions in a Public-Private Partnership scheme with industry. A possible support framework could include a federation of individual pan-European 5G-Satellite Trials in the 2018-2020 time frame, demonstrating satellite capabilities in selected 5G business areas/verticals and use cases such as in media & entertainment, transport and public safety. Further support could include areas such as technology developments, standardisation and provision of experimentation facilities. The framework would be expected to also include the coordination and cooperation with EC as well as with national and international 5G initiatives.
The Round Table participants agreed on two immediate actions, to jointly issue a 5G satcom manifesto offering a strategic vision, and to define via a Task Force a proposed 5G SATCOM plan of action including a trial road map. In consultation with its Member States and in coordination with EC, ESA will then take further steps towards a 5G satcom programmatic framework.