The approval of normative activities for Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) in 3GPP Release 17 has generated significant interest among industry stakeholders. The Rel-17 NTN work items have received support from a diverse range of vendors, including those in the terminal, chipset, and network segments, as well as service providers from both mobile and space industries, and vertical user groups such as ESOA.
The Technical Specification Group (TSG) RAN and TSG SA have been actively progressing towards the goal of satellite inclusion in 3GPP technical specifications, with a focus on transparent payload architecture with Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) systems. The normative phase encompasses physical and access layer aspects, radio access network and system architecture, radio resource management, and RF requirements for targeted satellite networks operating at Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), or Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO).
The 3GPP Rel-17 specifications are expected to be completed by March 2022 and will support New Radio (NR) based satellite access deployed in Frequency Range 1 (FR1) bands, serving handheld devices for global service continuity. Additionally, the 3GPP Rel-17 specification will also support Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and enhanced Machine Type Communication (eMTC) based satellite access to address massive IoT use cases in areas such as agriculture, transport, logistics, and others.
The integration of satellite networks into the 3GPP ecosystem through Rel-17 will enable a global standard for future satellite networks, enhancing service reliability and dependability, especially in unserved/underserved areas. The standardization will also support connectivity between various access technologies, providing better network resilience and responsiveness in the event of natural and man-made disasters.
Discussions among industry stakeholders, including ESOA members, have already begun for further enhancements for both NR-NTN and IoT-NTN to be considered in 3GPP Rel-18. There are also plans to define enablers for NR based satellite access in bands above 10 GHz to serve fixed and moving platforms, as well as building-mounted devices, supporting new capabilities and services as the evolution of 5G continues.
About the co-authors:
Munira Jaffar represents EchoStar and Hughes as the lead delegate, while Nicolas Chuberre, from Thales Alenia Space, serves as the rapporteur of the NR_NTN_solutions work item in TSG RAN and the FS-5GET study item in WG SA1. Both are actively involved in the Standards Working Group of the Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA).
See more: https://192-168-i-i.com/3gpp-release-15/