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5G and Satellite communication (Part #2)

5G and Satellite communication (Part #2)
August 21, 2023

Second part of new communication satellites, and how they contribute to 5G:

Satellites and IoT

Having billions of IoT devices poses a significant operational challenge. To combat on-going security vulnerabilities, devices need constant updates and future 5G devices will require an efficient distribution of data on a global scale. With wide coverage and broadcast capabilities, satellites are well-positioned to support IoT. They can offer shared uplink connectivity for a massive amount of IoT devices and provide data aggregation.  With an integrated satellite-terrestrial solution, the additional capacity can be used as an IoT backup or supplementing congested data traffic. This permits higher peak rates and more reliability in massive machine communication.    

Backhauling hi-speed services

Satellite communication has a deep history in providing secure networks for high-speed and mission-critical environments like air navigation systems. With larger constellations and a decrease of end-to-end delay, satellite networks can supply the required backhaul for high-speed services.    

One issue in 5G is the backhaul demands inherent in networks with large numbers of small cells. Satellite networks can be used as a single centralized backhaul for traffic unloading, edge processing, and resource sharing.  Telecommunication service provider  O2 found that connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are expected to generate 4TB of data per hour.  Project Darwin – a collaboration project between 02 and the European Space Agency – is a four year trial programme to test new end-to-end (E2E) connectivity with 5G and satellite communication . The goal of the project is to create a new transport ecosystem for CAVs that truly unlocks the possibilities of 5G.

With the right blend of economics and performance characteristics, satellites can provide additional services to high-speed platforms and network environments that are difficult to manage by terrestrial systems only (i.e connected cars, airplanes, drones, etc). Satellites can complement 5G and provide backhaul services, especially in areas where it’s difficult to install physical infrastructure. 

 The case for 5G satellites

Historically, the satellite industry has always played catch-up. Significant time and effort was spent on the backend to incorporate new satellite technology within prevailing telecommunication standards and practices. For the satellite industry of today, 5G provides a networking architecture from the get-go.  LEO satellite constellations will supplement terrestrial 5G infrastructure to increase network coverage and provide a backup in the event of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Moreover, they will assist with the delivery of enhanced mobile broadband and next-generation IoT devices by providing higher data rates and low latency across a constellation of satellites across the sky. Suffice to say, the next space race is indeed 5G-enabled satellites. For SpaceX, Amazon, and others, they open up revenue opportunities that are literally, out of this world.

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