Satellite Communications in the 5G Era

Satellite Communications in the 5G Era

Satellite Communication (SatCom) has been playing a vital role in the wireless world due to its capability of broadcasting telecommunication services to wider geographical areas and delivering broadband connectivity to sparsely populated remote regions, which are typically inaccessible or under-served by the terrestrial communication infrastructures. SatCom technologies have been significantly useful in bridging the digital gap in today’s information age by fostering the economic and social development of rural communities and developing countries. Although there are several advances in the terrestrial wireless world in terms of capacity and coverage enhancement, SatCom is the only viable option for delivering telecommunication services in a wide range of sectors such as aeronautical, maritime, military, rescue and disaster relief. Moreover, the demand for emerging applications such as high definition television, interactive multimedia services and broadband internet access is rapidly increasing, thus leading to the ever-increasing need of SatCom systems. More importantly, in order to meet the consumer expectation of the seamless access to any telecommunications services anytime and anywhere including the scenarios like traveling on cruise liners, planes and high-speed trains, satellite should be an important component of the upcoming fifth generation (5G) and beyond wireless architectures.

The upcoming 5G and beyond wireless communications are expected to support a massive number of smart devices, connected sensors and massive machine type communication (MTC) devices having diverse quality-of-service (QoS) requirements. In this direction, 5G wireless systems are envisioned to provide 1,000 times increased capacity, 10–100 times higher end-user data-rates, 5 times lower latency, 10 times increased energy efficiency for low-power devices and to support 10–100 times higher number of connected devices as compared to the current 4G systems. Also, various emerging wireless systems such as broadband systems, Internet of Things (IoT) and MTC systems are expected to be integrated with the legacy networks to utilize the already-deployed technologies such as 2G, 3G, long-term evolution (LTE), LTE-advanced, Wi-Fi and satellite. However, there are several challenges in meeting heterogeneous service requirements in terms of achievable coverage, data rates, latency, reliability and energy consumption, and in delivering converged wireless solutions to the end-users. Mainly, future wireless networks will need to provide anywhere, anytime and any device connectivity in a wide range of emerging application scenarios including industrial automation, connected car, E-Healthcare, smart city, smart home, smart grid, communications-on-the-move and high-speed platforms such as trains, airplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In the era of 5G wireless, SatCom solutions can complement terrestrial telecommunication solutions in all geographical regions including rural/inaccessible places and urban/suburban areas in terms of providing telecommunication services to the end-users. Satellite backhaul becomes an ideal solution to deliver telecommunication services to the geographically challenging areas since it is difficult to deploy wired backhaul solutions such as copper and optical fiber due to cost and implementation issues. As compared to the terrestrial backhaul, satellite backhaul not only can reduce the infrastructure cost but also can be a backup solution to the terrestrial backhaul links in case of failure or for load balancing in the places/events with high traffic demand. Furthermore, in many applications targeted by 5G and beyond systems such as distributed IoT/MTC networks, content delivery networks (CDNs), and highly distributed small/medium size networks, satellite networks are better suited than the terrestrial only solutions. Therefore, SatComs can be considered as an important means to support the expansion of 5G ecosystem toward highly reliable and secure global networks.

The recent advances in Ku-band, Ka-band, extra high frequency (EHF) band and free space optical technologies have led to the new era of high throughput satellite (HTS) systems. These HTSs are expected to significantly reduce the communication cost of the next generation satellite systems and of the integrated satellite-terrestrial systems. However, the main challenge in emerging HTS systems and non-geostationary (NGSO) constellations is the integration of satellite and terrestrial systems from an architectural perspective so that SatCom systems become an active part of the access network rather than another transparent backhaul medium for the5Gand beyond systems. In this regard, the concepts of employing software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) toward enabling the seamless integration of satellite-terrestrial are emerging. These SDN- and NFV-based solutions are envisioned to drastically shift the existing hardware-based system design and implementation toward full softwarization, thus enabling the flexible and adaptive implementation of the 5G ecosystem toward fulfilling the diverse QoS requirements of the end-users.

Satellite systems are challenged in meeting the latency requirements for some applications such as tactile Internet, and there are other challenges such as improving reliability, efficiency, coverage and reducing costs in the dense areas. This is particularly true for geostationary (GSO) satellites, whereas NGSO satellite constellations are in much better position in terms of latency. On the other hand, terrestrial wireless can provide connectivity to indoor and ground-mobile users with low latency but is economically challenging in sparse or intermittent areas. In this direction, the convergence of mobile, fixed and broadcasting systems with the possibility of coexistence of satellite networks with the terrestrial systems is one of the promising future directions. Toward enabling this convergence, SatComs can play a key role in building heterogeneous architectures through hybrid and integrated satellite-terrestrial paradigms. Furthermore, the involvement of satellite makes the deployment of IoT involving sensors and M2M connections in wide areas feasible. Besides, in order to enable Internet of everything, providing precise positioning and context capabilities is a crucial aspect and can be achieved by the combination of satellite and cellular positioning systems. Moreover, the integration of SatComs with the cellular will lead to better availability in emergency and disaster applications. As an example, the delivery of real-time high definition video using satellite in the UAV surveillance applications can be considered. In addition, there is a growing interest for satellite delivery in the transport sector safety services and vehicle-to-vehicle applications.

The aforementioned aspects clearly highlight the need of integrating satellite in 5G and beyond wireless architectures toward enabling the increased convergence as targeted by the 5G community. One promising way of taking mutual benefits from satellite and terrestrial technologies in the 5G ecosystem is to combine them in the same platform in the form of hybrid/integrated networks. However, satellite systems have been mostly used in an overlay manner rather than an integrated form except in the S-band. Also, enhancing the spectral efficiency as well as the total system throughput has been an important concern for future SatCom systems due to continuously increasing demand for broadcast, multimedia and interactive services and the lack of usable satellite spectrum. Although SatCom systems have moved from the traditional monobeam satellites to the multibeam platform and the emerging full-frequency reuse concept can provide significant capacity gains as compared to the conventional four-color reuse method, the problem of cochannel interference needs to be addressed with the help of advanced precoding and multiuser detection schemes. Besides, as the number of cochannel satellites (GSO and NGSO) as well as other cochannel terrestrial systems increases, handling inter-system interference becomes another issue. In this regard, the investigation of suitable spectrum sharing, resource allocation and interference avoidance/mitigation techniques has become crucial toward realizing the next generation Terabit/s SatCom systems.

Motivated by the above-mentioned numerous benefits and the role of SatComs in 5G systems and the associated challenges, several academic institutions, regulators and industries are putting significant efforts in investigating novel satellite-terrestrial integrated solutions and the next generation SatComs technologies/architectures. Mainly, several enabling technologies and architectures such as traffic offloading via satellite-terrestrial hybrid backhaul, high resolution content delivery via satellite-assisted CDN networks, advanced satellite constellation networks such as low Earth orbit (LEO) mega-constellations, medium Earth orbit (MEO) constellations and multilayered LEO/MEO satellite networks, extremely HTS systems of the Terabit/s class, beamhopping satellite systems, onboard signal processing, IoT via satellite, software-defined payloads, SDN- and NFV-based satellite-terrestrial integrated networks are being investigated in the related research communities. Also, there are ongoing activities in the areas of dynamic spectrum sharing, cognitive and cooperative SatComs, resource allocation, advanced interference mitigation techniques, multibeam joint processing, multiuser detection, advanced precoding techniques, design of smart antennas, optical intersatellite/space-ground links and the exploitation of high frequency bands (Q/V/W/optical) for the gateway connections.

Although there are some recent books in the literature discussing the aspects of 5G cellular communications, the importance of SatComs in 5G and beyond wireless systems has been neglected. In this direction, this book focuses on recent research efforts being carried out toward integrating SatCom systems in the upcoming 5G and beyond systems, and also on various novel enabling technologies for the next generation of Terabit/s SatComs. This book aims to provide significant inputs to academics, researchers, telecom engineers, industrial actors and policy makers such as 5G stakeholders, regulators and research agencies to stimulate future activities in strengthening the role of SatCom in the 5G and beyond wireless systems.

In the above context, this book discusses various emerging concepts/technologies/architectures in the domain of next generation SatComs and integrated satellite-terrestrial systems. The chapters included in this book are presented in the logical sequence of 5G SatCom scenarios and services/networking (Chapters 1–4), channel and propagation aspects (Chapters 5 and 6), physical- and system-level techniques (Chapters 7–10), optical technology-based satellite systems (Chapters 11–12), onboard processing (OBP) systems and techniques (Chapters 13 and 14), advanced collision/interference mitigation, spectrum sharing and latency reduction techniques (Chapters 15–18).

The book starts with an overview of the role of SatCom in the 5G era and the related use cases (Chapters 1 and 2), and then presents the emerging concepts related to SDN (Chapter 3) and NFV (Chapter 4) along with their applications toward the seamless integration of satellite and terrestrial networks. Then, the book analyzes the feasibility of using satellite systems in EHF bands for aeronautical broadband applications along with the characteristics of the aeronautical to satellite channel (Chapter 5). The book advances by presenting the main propagation characteristics of NGSO satellite systems along with some promising capacity enhancement techniques (Chapter 6). Subsequently, various aspects of MEO satellites such as diversity combining and handover techniques are discussed and an SDN-based cost-effective handover architecture is proposed along with some prototype-based test results (Chapter 7). Then, the book presents several advanced compensation techniques which can mitigate the effect of nonlinear distortions in emerging multicarrier satellite systems (Chapter 8). Subsequently, the book analyzes the feasibility of a software-defined radio (SDR)-based precoder for broadband multibeam satellite systems with the help of in-lab validation results (Chapter 9).

The book then proceeds by presenting emerging beamhopping technologies for the next generation satellite systems with a particular focus on the upcoming Eutelsat Quantum-class satellite (Chapter 10). In the context of emerging optical technologies, the book discusses several aspects of optical on–off keying (OOK) data links for emerging LEO downlink applications along with a detailed analysis of the laser communication channel (Chapter 11). In addition, the main elements involved in the design of optical technology-based ultra-high speed relay systems are discussed and the link budget calculation of various associated links is presented (Chapter 12). Next, the book includes two chapters related to the promising OBP paradigm in the next generation satellite systems. Mainly, various design aspects related to OBP are presented toward enabling the satellite-terrestrial integration along with an OBP example use case by employing LEO satellites (Chapter 13). And, some promising onboard interference detection and localization techniques are presented along with their performance evaluation via numerical results (Chapter 14). The book then discusses various conventional and advanced random access (RA) schemes and analyzes their performance with respect to various system constraints (Chapter 15). In the context of hybrid satellite-terrestrial mobile backhaul (MBH) systems, various interference avoidance and mitigation techniques including user-level linear precoding schemes and symbol-level precoding (SLP) schemes are discussed along with their performance analysis (Chapter 16). Moreover, toward enabling dynamic sharing of radio spectrum between satellite and terrestrial systems, various spectrum sharing techniques are discussed along with a practical coexistence example of a fixed satellite service (FSS) system and a terrestrial fixed service (FS) system (Chapter 17). Finally, the book discusses various aspects of two-way satellite relaying (TWSR) including a detailed mathematical analysis of beamforming and combining techniques in TWSR communication systems (Chapter 18).


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