Research into 5G network connectivity has taken a step forward with the satellite-operating subsidiary of Korean telecoms giant KT Corporation successfully conducting what it says is the world’s first 5G data transmission with a satellite connection.
The test was aimed at expanding the fifth-generation technology linked to KT’s 5G network and KT SAT’s KOREASAT 6, located some 36,000km (22,300 miles) above the equator.
KT SAT’s partner on the project was the KT Institute of Convergence Technology. They implemented hybrid terrestrial-satellite 5G transmission, which combines different networks to deliver data better than typical 5G service, and 5G edge cloud media transmission using satellite communications backhaul links. That meshes satellite communications with the content delivery network (CDN) for video transmissions from the 5G edge cloud, a virtual data center. It handles data generated from user terminals at the nearest possible spot in order to maximize the 5G capacity for ultra-low latency.
The test showed how the hybrid 5G transmission technology can enable 5G-based automated machinery or a moving vehicle to maintain its network connection when 5G coverage becomes unavailable, or a natural disaster has occurred.
KT SAT says that the key to hybrid satellite-terrestrial 5G transmission is a router jointly developed with the KT Institute; 5G terminals connected to this device can simultaneously transmit and receive various data, or use separate routes, to and from a 5G network and a satellite.
By using this technology, KT SAT successfully maintained normal service operations with KOREASAT 6 alone, after the 5G network was intentionally disconnected.
KT SAT predicts that if the technologies are commercialized, relatively slow-speed satellite communication could be boosted to provide faster, uninterrupted data transmission. It will widen opportunities for many users in countries with less developed communications systems to access high-quality content.
KT SAT and the KT Institute plan to report the test results to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) during the first half of 2020. KT says that experts in the communications field expect that global standardization efforts for satellite 5G will begin in earnest in 2020, under the initiative named 3GPP Release 17, based on results of the current research.