PARIS (ESA PR) – Engineers have connected Japan and Europe via space-based next-generation 5G telecommunications links. This is the first time such an intercontinental connection has been established between Europe and Japan.
The next generation of 5G technology is ready to provide fast, high-volume data connectivity for the digital transformation of society. When people and things travel abroad by plane or ship, telecommunications satellites will play an important role in keeping them connected. International connections – for example, a 5G network located at a company’s headquarters and its affiliates around the world – may also use satellites for communication.
Terrestrial 5G connectivity and the ability to switch between satellites is the key to ensuring that everything and everyone is connected wherever they go.
Japanese engineers have collaborated with their European counterparts to examine a number of business situations that would require such a smooth transition.
They first tested whether it was possible to send high-definition broadcast-quality 4K video through space to mimic the experience of passengers on the plane. Long distances between Japan and Europe introduce a time lag which makes connection more difficult than short distances.
They found that despite the effects of such delays, it was possible to send video from Japan to a European data center using the satellite.
Engineers then test whether they can send Internet of Things data – such as those generated by operating sensors in an offshore oil rig, for example – from Japan to Europe via satellite. Passed the test again.
Finally, they measured the network quality of each segment of each transmission and verified the successful integration between the terrestrial 5G network and the satellite. In addition, they demonstrated the system’s ability to support service requirements, proving that 5G intercontinental satellite and terrestrial networks are an important option for campus networks and high-distribution network deployments.
The tests took place in January and February 2022.
The tests are part of an ongoing agreement between ESA and Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NTIC) to work together on 5G satellite communications for the benefit of European citizens and industry and the Japanese.
Other members of the collaboration include: Eurascom, a telecommunications research and development company based in Heidelberg, Germany; Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOX) in Berlin, Germany; Japan Radio Corporation (JRC), manufacturer and seller of radio communication equipment based in Tokyo, Japan; Japanese satellite operator and broadcaster SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation; And the Nakao Research Laboratory at the University of Tokyo.
“We are proud to be part of this successful international collaboration between Japan and Europe,” said Hiroki Harai, managing director of NICT’s Network Research Institute. Using the results of this 5G satellite test, we believe that will lead to the development of communication and networking technologies for connecting satellites, high-altitude platform systems and drones. A three-dimensional network that connects multiple layers from Earth to the sea, air and space, enabling communication in all fields and realizing different communications.
Eurascom Director David Kennedy said: “Eurascom believes in a combination of satellite and terrestrial communications in an uninterrupted 5G infrastructure and has supported projects and initiatives to enable this integration since the 5G concept. We are proud to be part of this successful collaboration between Europe and Japan. Looking forward to further testing to improve its reach, capabilities, and ubiquity.
Fraunhofer FOKUS Business Unit Manager Software Networks Thomas Magdenz said, “Seeing is believing! It is only through hands-on testing that technology enables practical generation of skills that confidence in the latest 5G technology can be gained. This is just the beginning of the journey of 6G, where a closer convergence of network technology is envisioned, as we witness the rapid growth of industrial campus networks in the demand for connectivity.
Elody Viao, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “I am proud to be part of the first collaborative test with Japanese players where a terrestrial 5G signal is supplemented by a satellite connection to a single site. Working in international collaboration with Communication Technology, the next generation of communication technology is essential to keep everyone and everything connected at all times.
ESA supports testing through its Space for 5G / 6G strategic program line, which is part of the agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) program and the SATis5 project.
Part of the results of this study came from a study commissioned by the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology in Japan, “Research and Development of Satellite-Terrestrial Integration Technology Beyond 5G.”