At the Mobile World Congress, Spanish satellite and telecommunications operator HISPASAT announced its participation in a team of companies that will perform testing on the design of hybrid networks which, through a more efficient combination of different space and terrestrial technologies, will provide fifth generation services for mobile telephone networks (5G) in the future. The initiative, called 5GBarcelona, aims to convert the city into a living lab which will experiment with the implementation of new infrastructures necessary for the deployment of 5G connectivity in its different uses and verticals. Within this initiative, Hispasat will participate in a proposal, still in an evaluation stage, by the European Commission, which could be financed through the 5G-PPP Programme by the EU.
One Hispasat satellite will form part of this project, with the aim of testing and approving performance indicators established as standards. It consists of a highly relevant R&D initiative, led by the i2CAT Foundation in which organisations such as the Telecommunications Technological Centre of Catalonia (Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya, CTTC), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, UPC), Seat or Huawei will participate, among other organisations. The pilot being designed will serve to integrate satellites as an additional component to future 5G architecture and will demonstrate that the 5G satellite-terrestrial combination can make the distribution of video more efficient by means of code caching techniques, in addition to testing the support of said integration by means of network function virtualisation.
It will also validate the ubiquity indicator for extending the range of 5G services to areas with poor connectivity, or with none at all. The cases which will foreseeably be studied are related to connected cars, smart cities, connected hospitals, public safety, and immersive virtual reality, and data on speed, latency and performance of different technologies will be tested, as well asimprovements in efficiency that will allow for the combination of these elements. Work is to begin in September of this year once the programme is approved by the European Commission, and a demonstration Barcelona can be expected for 2019.
Other 5G projects
Hispasat is also actively participating in other European projects focused on the development of the future generation of 5G mobile services, such as the NRG5 Project, the aims of which include, among others, predictive maintenance of the electric distribution lines and gas plants by using drones. In this case, Hispasat will provide connectivity to link the remote base stations to the control and operations centre, to which data collected by the drones will be transmitted, and it will analyse the requirements and precise architecture of the networks for this service.
On the other hand, Hispasat forms part of a group of 16 large companies from the satellite industry which in 2017, at the Paris Air and Space Show, signed a joint statement with the ESA to collaborate on the project known as Satellite for 5G. As part of this initiative, the development of which is expected for 2018-20, the ESA and satellite operators, service providers and manufacturers will work together on testing 5G services, transversal activities and their scope.
All of these projects lie within the framework of the European 5G-PPP (Public-Private Partnership) programme, which is organised in three phase. The first phase was oriented towards providing innovative solutions that could be based on 5G. The second phase (NRG5), already underway, aims to put the developments of the previous stage into practice. At the end of January 2018 the first call for projects for the third phase came to a close, open to 5G pilots as well as cities seeking to become urban labs (5GTrial).