September 20, 2019

How Satellite Technology is a Key Component in the 5G Era


The number of connected devices is growing exponentially and by 2025 is expected to sit at around 75 billion globally. The introduction of new technologies, such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) will only continue to add to this figure, as well as move the marker for what end-users typically expect in an increasingly demanding industry. With 5G deployments on the rise, the challenge remains for businesses to be able to provide flexible connectivity for all their devices. Satellite technology is a key component in ensuring that reliable connectivity is adopted and achieved in the 5G world. But how will the satellite world interoperate with the terrestrial world?

Selecting The Right Architecture

The performance requirements of 5G services, mean that the technology needs new architecture to accommodate it, resulting in a need for businesses to overhaul their network. Operators should choose to implement distributed architectures, which include microservice architecture which are easier for greenfield deployments – as opposed to layer-based ones – as this can drastically improve a business’ day-to-day operations. The alternatives are service-orientated architecture (SOA) which is heavy on integration or service-based architecture (SBA) which acts as the medium between the former two options.

These distributed architectures mean service components can be accessed through a remote access protocol and have notable advantages including, better scalability, improved decoupling and enhanced control over development, testing and deployment.

Virtualization – Key For Success

Utilizing virtualization technologies is a necessity for organizations looking to fully benefit in the marketplace and look to manage information more effectively and seamlessly. Key benefits of virtualization are an increase in quality, a reduction in development costs and faster-time-to-market. The combination of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) can significantly enhance network flexibility. This facilitation of change control and maintenance can lead to more responsive and robust applications.

By decoupling their control and forwarding planes, SDN is designed to allow networks to be more agile and flexible. It also means that the infrastructure can be abstracted for applications and direct programmable control of network can be gained. Not only can traffic flow be adjusted to meet varying needs but SDN controllers can be implemented to offer a global view of the network. Meanwhile, NFV utilizes virtualized software as a replacement for routers, firewalls, load balancers and WAN optimization devices.

Virtualized networks can be customized to meet the needs of operators and NFV can be used to facilitate network slicing. In addition, due to software flexibility, NFV can operate on COTS platforms which reduces costs and allows scalability. Network operators are ideally placed to leverage the service agility, automation and flexible offered by SDN and NFV to manage resources in heterogeneous systems.

Satellite: The Cornerstone

In order to integrate satellite communications seamlessly in the 5G infrastructure, service providers need to be able to provide connectivity between satellite and terrestrial effectively. Communication traffic must be steered carefully to the best options available, this includes, bandwidth, latency or network conditions.

Interworking between terrestrial and satellite is promoted in 3GPP standards and full integration within the virtualized architecture applies to satellite too. Satellite communications remain a cornerstone of the communications industry and will be a key cog in the new 5G infrastructure with the low latency offerings of LEO and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites continuing to grow. These high capacity satellites are the new era of satellite communications that help fill the connectivity gaps for a variety of applications. With major architectural changes based on virtualization, it is becoming more evident that satellite has a key role to play and is part of the huge shift towards a landscape with wireless connectivity at the forefront.

How Newtec Dialog® Can Help

5GFor organizations looking to fully immerse themselves in the 5G world and reap the full rewards on offer, help could be at hand – if they utilize the Newtec Dialog® platform. The platform combines the features of 5G, network architecture and satellite to implement a service-based architecture leveraging network orchestration, virtualization and management functions.

It offers a lower-cost infrastructure that is both flexible and scalable and can ensure customers have better service access wherever they are in the world. It also makes it easier to manage the whole system and add new services and the architecture facilitates upcoming satellites to offer beam steering, beam switching and beamforming.

This in turn, will allow the interworking of terrestrial networks, 5G and satellite and will ensure a fully unified network. The need for agility and flexibility is paramount in order to unlock the full array of new applications and services on offer. In this ever-connected industry, satellite’s role is continuing to grow and it is clear that it will be a key player for years to come.