The Context


The GVF-EMP Conference Partnership Portfolio – which covers the application of satellite communications technology and service solutions to a world of ever-expanding vertical market opportunities – will continue with the latest programme in its Cellular Backhaul series again being embedded within the KNect365 ‘5G World & IoT World’ event at London’s ExCeL on 13 June 2019.


Satellite connectivity has provided the communications foundation for the requirements of several verticals for some several decades, but now it is trending to centre stage for applications and users across the economic and social spectrum. It is no longer regarded by the wider sphere of communications solution provisioning as being stage left, no longer regarded as a niche market-only technology, no longer a solution of last or remote resort.


Cellular Backhaul 2019: Satellite & the 5G Journey….


….is a one-day, roundtable-style. conference dedicated to exploring the current interaction between the satellite and wireless industries, the current and future growth of data traffic from mobile devices and how that will impact both cellular and satellite networks as they increasingly converge and integrate.


A series of panels will explore the problems, risks and opportunities that this continued growth offers to both these industries and to the businesses that will rely on these future networks, ranging from the Fortune 500 to government and the military, and from planes, trains and automobiles to schools, restaurants and businesses all around the data-hungry world.


A Fully Interactive Forum


Across four themed panel sessions, with between three and six panellists featuring on each, contributors will deliver a briefing of opening/introductory remarks reflecting on the context of their panel's particular theme, aiming at "stimulating a dialogue" on a particular facet of the theme under discussion. The panel moderators will then invite members of the audience to drive the discussion forward through a variety of questions directed at the panellists, through articulating their own perspectives, and by expanding on any of the points already raised.  This is designed to be a fully interactive forum, and everyone in attendance will have a voice.


At no earlier point in the history of mobile communications is the success of the next generation of networking technologies so dependent upon the take-up of network services by industry vertical markets. This is clearly reflected in the qualitative nature of 5G, a quantum leap beyond the person-to-person communications focus of earlier generations of mobile and towards a device-to-device ecosphere.


The Birth of the MEGA-LEOs


The satellite industry is at a crucial stage of evolution – with the birth of the “mega-LEOs” – with more data coverage “in build”, and due to be launched, in the coming years than on all the satellite communication payloads ever launched combined.  The wireless industry is seeing data usage by business and consumers doubling regularly, posing network stretch and technology challenges across the spectrum.  With the growth of M2M, the exponential expansion in IoT, and 5G in coming years, these challenges may make 4G LTE seem like a simple dial up deployment of the past.


Satellite has a long pedigree of excellent synergy with other technologies, including mobile wireless. Backhaul for mobile networks is critical to ensure speed and capacity as it relates to the transport of data (and, of course, voice) from distributed network sites to the network core.


The 5G Express…. Stopping at 3G, 4G and LTE


One of the most significant challenges in the mobile services market is achieving scalable, flexible backhaul, particularly as markets move to 4G/LTE networks which are forecast to need to support 1,000 times more data traffic by 2020. The backhaul optimisation technologies used to reduce bandwidth which have been introduced cannot solve all backhaul challenges, especially as the roll-out of LTE continues. As a result, there is a need for cost-effective mobile backhaul over satellite for global 3G/4G expansion to relieve congestion.


Whilst the future development of the global digital economy is underpinned by the success of 5G deployment, some analyses of the roll-out of future cellular networks have it that 5G networks will NOT be the norm for some time and that 4G and LTE will continue along a gradual evolutionary path towards 5G. By 2025, the majority of the world's networks will have only just got to functioning LTE level but will still not yet be 5G. Across this evolutionary scenario satellite will evolve from an “interfacing” technology and service, with a secondary role in the “network”, to an “integrated” technology and service, fully part of an evolving and complex “network of networks”.


Backhaul Optimisation Technologies


One consideration for the satellite industry during the period of the 4G/LTE evolutionary journey, over the short to medium term, is to understand how it can beneficially leverage the opportunities inherent in the transitionary period of continued expansion of such networks, before 5G “arrives”.


However, when it does arrive it will support a heterogeneous set of integrated air interfaces: from evolutions of current access schemes to brand new technologies. 5G networks will encompass cellular and satellite solutions. Seamless handover between heterogeneous wireless access technologies will be a native feature of 5G, as well as use of simultaneous radio access technologies to increase reliability and availability.


Satellite as a Hybrid Component


Satellites can proficiently be part of a hybrid network configuration, consisting in a mix of broadcast infrastructures and broadband infrastructures managed in such a way that it brings, seamlessly and immediately, converged services to all end-users.


The quantum leap – a leap, that is, beyond the realms of the maturing, and still expanding, M2M connectivity environment which has an already long-standing dependency on, and synergy with, satellite communications links – that will be the world of IoEE will be built on a connectivity foundation which will comprise a highly integrated functionality of, and between, terrestrial wireless platforms and satellite platforms.


Key Point: Reducing Cost


Mobile operators must deliver their services at the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TCO). The cost of backhaul is one of the most important factors. Traditionally, satellite backhaul was an expensive option, but with HTS this is no longer the case – even in areas supported by terrestrial access. Within the next few years, it is predicted that the cost of Mbps over satellite will drop by a factor of six.


Key Point: Mitigating Latency


Latency is challenging for mobile operators. With a GEO satellite link latency potentially resulting in a round-trip delay of 500 to 600 milliseconds. This affects the response time of 3G/4G/LTE data applications when sent over satellite, resulting in wasted satellite capacity, link under-utilisation and poor performance. Latency is a matter of physical law, but the application side can help mitigate the effects of latency. Caching also helps as a way of reducing latency, as does TCP acceleration/ backhaul optimisation, reducing satellite bandwidth needs, enhancing mobile users’ experience and network performance, increasing network throughput and improving network response times and reliability.


Key Point: Link Availability


Some HTS systems are susceptible to rain attenuation/fade during bad weather conditions, resulting in service disruption. The solution is a secondary communication path added at base stations so that voice and signalling can be routed over high availability terrestrial or C-/Ku-band routes, while the packet service runs over high throughput routes, maintaining the use of the existing infrastructure and ensuring voice and signalling stays on low latency and highly available communication paths but provides an alternative backhaul approach for service providers, therefore, eliminating the need to upgrade expensive terrestrial communication paths.


Next Generation Satellite Backhaul


What MNOs Need: Next Generation Satellite Backhaul for Emerging LTE and Small Cell Deployments

Mobile network operators (MNOs) want innovative backhaul architectures that are robust and flexible to accommodate shifting traffic loads on mobile network sites without massive bandwidth over-provisioning. Importantly, MNOs are looking at the segmenting of macro-cells into smaller (femto-, pico-) cells, a trend presenting new challenges for the satellite backhaul vendor.


The conference will explore how the two industries may better mutually benefit from collaboration and cooperation, both today and in the future, Whilst there is no one fixed technological winner known, or expected, in the years ahead, invited panellists, moderators and attendees will have the opportunity provided by this event to share in current leading thoughts, plans and technology developments for a world that will shape, and be shaped by, the evolution of communications using smart mobile devices.


The 2019 Programme Highlights


The following four panel sessions will include the following issues, points, and questions – these will evolve and mature as the programme continues to develop.