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5G and Satellite communication (Part #1)

5G and Satellite communication (Part #1)
August 21, 2023

5G has arrived, and new equipment is currently being installed in densely populated cities across the globe. In many cases, the demand for 5G capacity is exceeding infrastructure improvements, especially in sparsely populated areas that are difficult to access. For years, satellite communication has remained standalone technology, independent of mobile networking. Now with the next generation of satellites – built from 5G architecture –  they will integrate with networks to manage connectivity to cars, vessels, airplanes and other IoT devices in remote and rural areas.   In the near future, 5G signals will beam down from space and support our ‘terrestrial’ 5G infrastructure on Earth. The end result is a new space race for satellites – promising to offer customers a seamless wireless experience across the entire globe.    With that in mind, let’s examine the new communication satellites, and how they contribute to 5G:

1. Coverage and integration

In a 5G interconnected world, smart cities will utilize ultrafast speeds and low latency to connect everything in it. This requires small 5G towers placed in high traffic areas that demand a lot of bandwidth and have a direct line of sight for optimal speed and performance.   LEO Satellites will play a key part in extending cellular 5G networks to air, sea and other remote areas not covered by small cell networks. For the end-user, satellites offer a seamless extension of 5G services from the city to airplanes, cruise liners and other vehicles in remote locations. IoT sensors and M2M connections on farms and remote worksites like mines can also capitalize on the wide coverage areas offered by 5G satellites.   Integrating satellites with 5G infrastructure improves the Quality of Experience (QoE) of high capacity applications. By intelligently routing and offloading traffic, satellites save valuable spectrum and improve the resilience of each network.   In the event of a natural or man-made disaster where 5G infrastructure is damaged, satellite networks can take over and keep the network alive. While they will not be able to provide a full set of services, they can still retain critical and life-saving communication services during disasters.  

2. Multicast streaming

The traditional core market of satellite communication is media broadcast. Now, with the proliferation of mobile devices, media content trends are shifting away from live linear television broadcasts, to low latency on-demand streaming. Media streaming – arguably the most successful service of 4G – will become one of the key use cases for new satellite technology.  With 5G, users will consume enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) applications such as 8K video streaming and online VR/AR gaming. With the help of 5G-enabled satellites, these immersive experiences can globally transmit higher data rates to support smooth delivery and low latency to mobile devices.

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