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Integration of Satellite and 5G Networks

The most recent advances in satellite communication technologies witnessed by High and Ultra High Throughput Systems building on EHF frequency bands and free space optical links have opened a new era where the satellite is expected to play a fundamental role for enabling more demanding broadcast/broadband services and reaching a large population of users and machines. On the other hand, the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) as part of the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5GPPP) is envisaging a technology revolution in the telecommunications world, where larger volume of data, connected devices, data rates as well as reduced latency and energy consumption will provide improved support to Internet of Things (IoT), user experience continuity, mission critical services, and flexible value chains.
From this standpoint it is immediate to see the natural convergence between 5G and satellite technologies so as to form a unique platform actually building on heterogeneous technologies exploited to transport a large spectrum of services. The enablers of this integration will be the Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) paradigms, which have shifted the traditional design and implementation of networks and related functions towards full “softwarization”, able to make the overall ecosystem more flexible and tunable to user demands and service characteristics. Hence they will have a fundamental role in deploying a converged satellite-5G network infrastructure, where overall orchestration of services and resources will help a more efficient interaction between the various network players (e.g., telecom operators) and also enable the creation of a plethora of virtual service providers. Moreover, new networking paradigms will enable more efficient resource allocation schemes on an end-to-end basis with clear implications on the implementations and orchestration in both ground infrastructures (e.g., RAN, satellite ground stations, core network) and space segments (e.g., on-board satellite payloads). Finally, the new networking paradigm is expected to also impact on the design of the lower layers, so that optimal access to network capacity and opportunistic sharing between satellite and terrestrial segments can be efficiently achieved. Key elements enabling this will still be novel interference mitigation techniques coupled with the design of smarter antennas.

The aim of this special issue is to gather advances in satellite and terrestrial networking technologies illustrating the large spectrum wherein 5G and satellite can be suitably and efficiently integrated in a unique system platform. As such, it is expected that contributions will bring a sound balance between academic research and industrial development in order to provide a reference point for the know-how in this sector.

We solicit high-quality original research papers on aspects of integrated terrestrial -satellite 5G networks including but not limited to the following topics:

  • Role of satellites in 5G networks
  • Heterogeneous terrestrial / satellite 5G network architectures
  • Air interface harmonization between terrestrial 5G and satellite systems
  • Regulatory impacts of 5G spectrum allocation on  satellite/terrestrial integration
  • Satellite network space segment architectures (GSS, NGSS)
  • Integration of 5G and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to extend service coverage
  • Satellite network ground segment architectures
  • Information Centric Networking (ICN) architectures to enable Future Internet over federated satellite - 5G networks
  • End-to-end dynamic resource allocation building on novel network slicing techniques
  • Advanced satellite payload architectures (e.g., OBP with virtual hosted payloads) to improve resource allocation flexibility on an end-to-end basis
  • Mobile edge computing to enhance quality of experience (QoE) of mobile users attached to terrestrial and satellite networks.
  • Network function Virtualization (NFV) and Software-defined networking (SDN) in converged multi-tenant satellite and terrestrial networks
  • Network Coding and multi-path offloading techniques for optimized backhauling
  • Opportunistic and Cognitive Communications for spectrum sharing over satellite and 5G segments
  • Intelligent / smart antennas to enable optimal share of the capacity offered by satellite and 5G terrestrial backhaul segments.


Dr. Tomaso de Cola (Corresponding Guest Editor)
German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany

Dr. Stefan Covaci
Technical University of Berlin, Germany

Dr. Channasandra Ravishankar
Hughes Network Systems, US

Prof. Ana I. Pérez-Neira
Technical University of Catalonia, Spain