Now that 5G deployments are taking place on a global scale, satellite contribution is being proven on the basis of its benefits and its integration in the overall 5G network. Major satellite contributions relate with global connectivity, easy and cost efficient deployment of secure, reliable, dedicated private 5G networks with increased reliability; serving, with ultra-low delay within the edge both civilian and governmental users as well as offering direct access connectivity for remote undeserved areas and thus reducing digital divide. Besides, COVID-19 pandemic emphasised the importance of secure and reliable satellite connectivity solutions and services supporting societal needs and the economy globally.
Recent developments enable the operation of High Throughput Geostationary (GSO) and non-Geostationary (non-GSO) satellite networks based on hundreds to thousands of satellites contributing to 5G global deployments. Initiatives spawned lately range from High Altitude Platforms (HAPs)through micro-and nano-satellite systems dedicated to M2M/IoT to mega-constellations, e.g. OneWeb and Telesat to mention but few. Stakeholders include established satellite industry players and newcomers with increasing presence of entrepreneurs. It has to be acknowledged that the new space economy is largely driven by private companies and entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk with his Starlink constellation that managed to shake up the industry. The new space economy is both rapidly growing and very competitive due to the large number of players. Recent examples of new space applications include CubeSats, high-end private imaging satellites using e.g. hyper-spectral cameras and synthetic-aperture radars, and the creation of very low orbiting (vLEO) constellations for reduced latency high throughput communications.
Research on autonomous satellites as part of a 6G vision aims to enable satellite payloads to act as mobile edge hosts to facilitate the provision of cloud functionalities on demand. The vision of a 3D space infrastructure emerges, consisting of unmanned aerial vehicles, HAPs and constellations of satellites in very Low Earth Orbit / Low Earth Orbit / Medium Earth Orbit and Geo-stationery Earth Orbit collectively contributing to the provision of connectivity and advanced integrated services on demand with controlled delay constraints. This encompasses also the integration of functionalities, such as connectivity, time synchronisation and positioning and Earth Observation data.
Last but not least, the new emerging 6G space infrastructure will contribute to meeting the new security requirements and support the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure by providing the needed Quantum Key Distribution.
This Special Session builds upon the success of a series of past events and will showcase the integration of satellites in 5G and outline new paths that are being investigated. In particular, this Special Session will:
• Highlight experiences, results and lessons learnt from successful over-the-air validations with seamless satellite integration into 5G;
• Update on the status of 5G experimentation facilities exploiting new capabilities of global connectivity, edge networking, automated management, frequency sharing and Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) with New Radio also supporting IoT;
• Highlight the emergence of 5G services relying on the use of integrated 5G and satellite communication;
• Present 3D space NTN infrastructure concepts and discuss emerging research areas;
• Foster cross-industry cooperation opportunities between terrestrial mobile and satellite industry when shaping 6G.