1 June 2021


Mobile World Live, in partnership with Cambridge Consultants Limited, recently published its Whitepaper on the applications for 5G’s future architecture. A fantastic and insightful read about our worlds emerging technological advances, and how they can work together to bridge the communication gap.

You can read the following opening summary for an overview. Full access to the paper is at the foot of this article.

“5G’s future is hybrid – the non-terrestrial opportunity. The technology and antenna innovations that are enabling hybrid terrestrial/non-terrestrial 5G networks.

5G is widely touted as a game ­changer in mobile broadband services in terms of data speeds, low latencies and massive connectivity features. And it is. But there’s far more to the disruptive power of 5G than fast speeds – it’s also about the resulting network architecture that brings new levels of flexibility and service innovations the mobile industry has never seen before. In fact, the architecture itself will be like nothing seen before in the mobile sector because it will be the first architecture to combine terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) – including high­ altitude platforms (HAPs) such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites
constellations – into a hybrid network providing true ubiquitous mobile broadband to every corner of the globe.

Hybrid terrestrial/NTN 5G networks unlock new revenue and service opportunities for operators, not least the rural consumer market that operators have found too expensive to serve. Other possibilities range from rural business applications such as agriculture, forestry and mining to automotive apps, industrial IoT services, logistics and asset tracking and remote healthcare, to name a few.

However, just as 5G needs to evolve from it’s current incarnation to the full promise of gigabit speeds and millisecond latencies, NTNs have their own evolutionary path to pursue before full integration can be achieved. Challenges abound, from link budgets and terminal costs to mitigating RF interference and high Doppler shifts. Even keeping the electronics cool at high altitudes is a key challenge to overcome.

All of the challenges ultimately come down to the antenna technology. Advanced intelligent antenna solutions – including key breakthroughs such as multibeam and lighter, more scalable digitally phased array antennas – are essential to ensuring that NTNs are not only economically viable, but also able to integrate seamlessly into terrestrial 5G networks. And it will require involvement of the entire telecoms ecosystem – from the operators to the various vendors and systems integrators – to make that work and unlock the true value of 5G.”

The full paper can be downloaded here.

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