The recent 5G vision brochure by the European 5G Infrastructure Association (5G PPP) foresees 5G as the convergence of fixed, mobile and broadcast services. 5G will not be just an evolution of mobile broadband networks but it will bring new unique network and service capabilities by integrating networking, computing and storage resources into one programmable and unified infrastructure.
The European NetWorld 2020 technology platform for communications networks and services, has published a positioning paper, in which satellite technology has been identified as a key to allow for seamless extension of 5G services anywhere, anytime. Current LTE/4G transmissions over satellite backhaul have been demonstrated and it is strongly believed that satellites should be part of 5G systems, due to, for example, their broadband and broadcast capabilities, wide area coverage that enables access at affordable cost, and disaster resilience. However, exact technologies to be used and numerous system aspects are open to the research community and these needs to be accurately addressed before they can be implemented in practical systems.
The satellite industry is clearly committed to revisit and revamp the role of satellite communications. Central technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) are anticipated to become key technological enablers for improved and more flexible integration of satellite and terrestrial segments. In turn, developing self-organizing capabilities for hybrid backhaul networks will allow supporting the ever increasing mobile traffic in access networks and a much higher exploitation of all deployed resources by evenly balancing the load among terrestrial and satellite links. Improvements in the spectrum efficiency in the extended Ka band for backhaul operations can also be expected through novel interference mitigation techniques. Besides pursuing capacity and energy efficiency, providing resilience against link failures or congestion enhances paves the way to make satellite communications to become a constituent part well integrated within the anticipated multi-layer/heterogeneous 5G-network architecture. Furthermore there are recent efforts to develop and demonstrate aerial 5G technologies which in conjunction with the always-available SatCom networks will form the integrated communication solutions for future seamless aerial (and Air-to-Ground) communication systems.
Indeed, these challenges were well identified as target outcomes of the Call ICT 6 – 2014 and projects VITAL (http://www.ict-vital.eu/), SANSA (http://www.sansa-h2020.eu/) and EIT DIGITAL ICARO-EU (Direct Air2Ground Communications) projects are currently addressing them.
In addition to get up-to-date information about the achievements and plans from these projects, the objective of the workshop is more ambitious and aims at reinforcing the European research ecosystem on Satellite Communications by strengthening the exchange of ideas among the participants, reinforcing liaison among industrial and academic players, improving focus of innovation and aligning towards common goals and milestones, thus maximizing the overall impact.