ESA Tender – AO 1-10506 – DEMONSTRATION OF DIRECT 5G BROADBAND ACCESS FROM LEO TO SMALL APERTURE TERMINALS
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) completed the first global 5th Generation (5G) New Radio (NR) standard in its Release 15, paving the way for making 5G a commercial reality. Enabling 5G NR to support satellite communications is also an on-going effort in 3GPP. Meanwhile, we are witnessing a resurgent interest in providing connectivity from space. In the past few years, there has been a surge of proposals about using large constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to provide broadband access. It is anticipated that the integration of satellite communications into 5G networks will facilitate the anything, anytime, anywhere connectivity paradigm. More specifically, the most interesting and innovative integration scenario is the direct 5G broadband access to very small aperture terminals. Within this category, portable, vehicular and handheld terminals represent the most technically challenging scenario, but also the most commercially appealing.
To support this 5G satellite use case, the activity will develop and validate in orbit a communications experiment to do an early demonstration of direct 5G broadband services from LEO. The space segment of the experiment will consist of a transparent payload to be flown at a relatively low orbit to ease the closure of the link budget. The payload will implement a bent-pipe bi-directional transponder providing user connectivity at the most suitable frequency band to be selected as part of the activity. The development of the experiment will trade off a number of mission and system design elements including regulatory aspects, payload and terminal complexity, complexity of the demonstration, availability of the required key technical elements and the achievable data rate. The experiment lifetime will be defined to maximise the use of COTS components yet guaranteeing the required experimentation time. The user terminals will support the latest version of 3GPP’s Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) standard and will leverage existing technologies whenever possible. Finally, a 5G NR base station (g-NodeB) equipment with the NTN function to communicate with the satellite payload shall be implemented and will be integrated in the earth-ground station.
The direct access tests will be performed by demonstrating a broadband link of at least 1 Mbps in suburban and rural areas. Higher throughput will be attempted with portable or vehicular terminals. Several tests will be performed to ensure the repeatability and reliability of the results.
The objective of the activity is to develop, validate and operate in orbit a communications experiment (including the design, development, testing, and operation of the space segment as well as the supportive ground segment) to demonstrate direct 5G broadband access from LEO to very small aperture mobile terminals. The minimum target data rate target is 1 Mbps.
(This is a copy of the official text of the ESA Tender)
We are looking for partner and contributer for this project, which share a common solution and goal. Together with our partner BidBox International we will prepare and lead the proposal work.
If you are interested, please contact here or via LinkedIn.