UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) is the next generation of mobile and personal communications in Europe. In addition to terrestrial mobile communications, UMTS will include an integrated satellite component. Satellite-UMTS will represent a significant extension of the first generation of satellite personal communications systems (e.g. ICO, Globalstar, and Iridium), both in terms of services and in terms of capacity.
Initial conceptual studies and experiments for S-UMTS are already underway, sponsored mainly by ESA (ASTE) and the European Commission (ACTS). The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate and validate S-UMTS concepts and techniques by creating a test bed and performing experiments.
The test bed will build upon other activities (studies and hardware developments) already in progress. The test bed will be designed in such a way that it can be extended from its initial laboratory-based configuration, to form the basis of in-orbit experimentation. Initial S-UMTS test bed activities are already underway within the EC's ACTS programmes (projects SINUS and INSURED).
These focus respectively on the radio interface and on a particular aspect of the networking. This activity will go significantly beyond the scope of the ACTS projects, by including a more accurate modelling of the satellite, as well as inter-satellite links and interworking with terrestrial mobile and fixed telecommunications networks.
Validation of S-UMTS concepts is essential to convince industry and operators of the technical and economical feasibility of Satellite UMTS.
The technical results achieved during Phase 1, activity NM 1.2, related to packet, multicasting and narrowcasting for S-UMTS are of good quality and will constitute a good input to Phase 2 and to ETSI standardization.