Embracing The Future: 5G NTN – Satellite Service For The Masses

Testing plays a crucial role in ensuring the seamless integration of satellite services into cellular networks.


In a world where communication is paramount, access to reliable networks is not just a luxury but a necessity. Traditionally, satellite communications have been reserved for specialized terminals with cumbersome antennas and costly subscription plans. However, with the advent of 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs), the landscape of satellite phone availability is undergoing a revolutionary transformation. Soon, satellite service will be accessible to billions of mobile phone subscribers worldwide, ushering in a new era of connectivity.

5G NTN technology overview

5G NTN, introduced as part of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)’s Release 17, distinguishes itself from traditional satellite networks through network-assisted operations. This innovative approach involves base stations assisting in establishing and managing cell phone connections to satellites. By adjusting the timing of radio frames and compensating for link frequency errors caused by satellite movement, 5G NTN makes it easier for user terminals to tolerate satellite link characteristics. Key techniques and methods employed in 5G NTN communications include minimizing frequency errors, adjusting timing for seamless gateway-to-satellite links, and handling satellite-to-phone service efficiently. These advancements are paving the way for ubiquitous satellite connectivity, bridging the gap between terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks.

Challenges and solutions

However, deploying 5G NTN services comes with its own set of challenges. Integrating satellite and terrestrial networks, each often operated by different entities and utilizing equipment from specialized vendors, requires careful coordination. Moreover, the cost of satellite network deployment has traditionally been prohibitive, although recent advancements, such as SpaceX’s Starship, have significantly reduced launch costs, making satellite constellations more feasible.

One of the main challenges lies in adapting user terminals, especially smartphones, to effectively utilize satellite services. Larger antennas and outdoor usage are often required due to the low signal levels from distant satellites. Additionally, satellite movements introduce Doppler error, necessitating sophisticated algorithms for error mitigation.

Testing 5G NTN networks

Testing plays a crucial role in ensuring the seamless integration of satellite services into cellular networks. Companies like Keysight offer comprehensive test solutions tailored to the unique requirements of 5G NTN. From ground devices and user terminals to network access points and end-to-end connections, these solutions simulate real-world scenarios to validate network functionality and performance. Learn how to optimize your NTN testing strategy and ensure seamless connectivity in our use case on “How to Re-Create Satellite Radio Links Between Network Entities.” In the future, satellite networks are poised to become an integral part of multi-dimensional communication systems. As we anticipate the evolution to 6G networks, seamless integration of terrestrial and non-terrestrial components will be paramount in delivering unparalleled connectivity to users worldwide. In conclusion, 5G NTN represents a monumental leap forward in satellite communication technology, democratizing access to connectivity on a global scale. With continued innovation and rigorous testing, satellite networks are well-positioned to meet the evolving demands of our interconnected world.

At the forefront of enabling the seamless integration of satellite services into cellular networks is Keysight’s S8825A Satellite and Aerospace Channel Emulation toolset. This comprehensive suite of testing solutions, including channel emulation tools and scenario creation software, empowers network operators and equipment manufacturers to validate the functionality and performance of 5G NTN networks. By providing the means to conduct thorough testing and optimization, Keysight’s S8825A plays a pivotal role in ensuring the success of satellite communication deployments, contributing to the realization of a truly connected world. Learn more about how our channel emulation solution ensures reliable performance and integration for non-terrestrial networks in our Use Case: How to Re-Create Satellite Radio Links Between Network Entities.

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