June 22, 2017

Why 5G is So Important for the Satellite Industry

This week, iDirect’s Gerry Collins, Director of Business Development, will speak at the GVF Cellular Backhaul 2017 event in London. Gerry will address “Why 5G is So Important for the Satellite Industry.”

It’s a question that’s top of mind for cellular backhaul operators, and a priority for iDirect as the promise of satellite and 5G convergence opens tremendous opportunity for the satellite industry at large.

Here are the key topics Gerry will cover in what promises to be a lively discussion:

The world is experiencing a significant shift in Internet traffic from computer access to smartphone access. This places the mobile industry in a strong position for growth. And the 5G standard represents a bold vision for an end-to-end ecosystem that will enable a fully mobile and connected society.

5G promises to transform the mobile experience. For example, 5G is projected to increase peak data to 1Gbps per device, spectral efficiency by 200%, and connection density by 200%. It can reduce transmission latency by 94% and signaling overhead by 81%. And it provides expanded support for IoT, autonomous vehicles, GPS and network virtualization and programmability.

At iDirect, we believe the 5G standard represents more than cellular access. It informs what multi-access networks will look like going forward. And we are playing a lead role in the convergence of 5G and satellite connectivity. The diagram below summarizes the key steps we are enabling in the ecosystem towards “Unified Technology Transformation” – which includes 5G convergence.

5GAt all layers of the service delivery model, we see major points of convergence with the cellular industry, and in particular 5G. At the Infrastructure and Transport layer, we’re engineering our satellite ground infrastructure platform to scale much more rapidly and cost-effectively by leveraging embedded compute and cloud technologies.

Building on that foundation, we’re providing transparent connectivity through our Layer 2 implementation, and enabling the unification of different networks through virtualized functions that allow for devices to roam across any access network. Some platforms will remain unique to satellite, but infrastructure will converge using common technologies such as Layer 2 transport and Mobile Edge Computing.

At the Network Function Virtualization (NFV) layer, we‘re transitioning satellite functions into virtualized components that can share virtual environments with cellular functions. And since 5G services will drive the development of Software Defined Networking (SDN) globally, the satellite industry must be involved in forming SDN standards that are interoperable with satellite’s unique requirements.

Finally, at the Service layer, whether it is cellular operators using satellite to expand mobility coverage or satellite operators using cellular technology to introduce global roaming, convergence will play a role in delivering the services people require. And we’re leveraging best practices around open APIs to offer advanced network programmability for real-time operations automation.

All these advances combine to enable dynamic service delivery and help service providers reduce capital and operating expenses.

Our efforts are part of a much larger global initiative. This year, iDirect was selected to join a group of 16 organizations for the “Horizon 2020” innovation program, sponsored by the  European Union, to integrate satellite and terrestrial 5G (SaT5G). The goal is to research, develop and validate key technologies required to enable the seamless integration of satellite and 5G networks.

5G is coming, and it represents a vision to transform mobile communications. Since satellite is imperative to delivering global mobile coverage, we need to set our sights on the same vision. That’s our plan at iDirect, and we’re happy to share it this week at the GVF Cellular Backhaul event.