Avanti Communications has launched Instant5G, a new research project endorsed by the European Space Agency, UK Space Agency and the Romanian Space Agency.
With Integrated Satellite and Terrestrial Communication (Instant5G), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Tower Companies (Towercos) will be able to extend 5G coverage.
Instant5G will define and develop a software-based platform that will enable the convergence of satcom and mobile networks to aid 5G satellite connectivity services.
It will create, trial and validate novel technologies, to deliver a software platform that virtualises resources and enables zero-touch service management of 5G satellite connections. This hybrid satellite-terrestrial network will help address the operational challenges that MNOs and Towercos face, and reduce the digital divide in regions like Africa, where inequalities are particularly prominent. By removing integration complexities and high TCOs, the platform will enable satcom-5G convergence and seamless E2E network management across both terrestrial and satellite links, the company said.
Avanti and ESA are leading the Instant5G project, with support from academics and experts from the University of Surrey, CGI and Lasting software. Trials across Africa and Europe are planned to take place from 2023.
Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer at Avanti, said: “We are delighted to be able to take a leading role in shaping the services of 5G over satellite on this ground-breaking research programme, and proud to be working alongside renowned global partners and academic experts. At Avanti, we believe everyone has the power to ‘Be More’ and by helping to break down the barriers preventing MNOs and Towercos from accessing 5G coverage, we will unlock opportunities that will enable these businesses to thrive – it is a really exciting time for the satcom industry!”
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, added: “Satellites play a crucial role in enabling seamless and ubiquitous connectivity to reduce the digital divide, support the digital transformation and enable new carbon-neutral applications and services. We are proud to explore novel technologies for the design and development of integrated space and terrestrial networks.”
Professor Barry Evans, University of Surrey, stated: “The Institute for Communication Systems and 5 and 6G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey is delighted to be collaborating with Avanti, Lasting and CGI on the integration of satellite and 5G mobile systems. The Instant5G project enables us to advance the state-of-the-art of 5G satellite backhaul that was set by the EU SaT5G project in which the University of Surrey had the Technical Management role. The advancement will be towards commercial and dynamic end-to-end managed 5G services that include satellite links in the path, through innovation and demonstration. Our 3GPP compliant 5G Core Network, Management and Orchestration infrastructure and campus-wide Radio Access Network will be utilised in the project to test the end-to-end system including satellite backhauling via Avanti, and links to the ESA ECSAT hub.”
Shaun Stretton, Senior Vice President of Satellite Communications and Space Data Platforms at CGI in the UK and Australia noted: “This is another exciting project that will take us a step further towards ubiquitous 5G coverage built on a hybrid terrestrial and satcoms network. CGI is uniquely positioned to unlock these benefits through our experience and IT capabilities across the space and telecoms and our investment in unlocking the potential of 5G including our 5G accelerator lab.”
Daniel Zirmer, Chief Executive Office at Lasting Software, commented: “As a provider of integrated cellular backhaul solutions, LastingSoftware is very happy to be part of this consortium, working alongside leading industry players and using our significant expertise in 5G and multi-orbit satcom solutions to help drive innovation. Given Lasting Software’s solid collaboration with ESA, we are thrilled to join Instant5G as the first project in which have the opportunity to carry out demonstrations in a commercial context of the significant optimisations we have achieved in satcom technology solutions as part of previous and ongoing ESA-supported initiatives.”
Avanti previously led the European Commission H2020 SaT5G project, working with fifteen organisations to develop prototype solutions to integrate satellites into 5G networks.
The launch of Instant5G follows the recent introduction of Avanti Extend, a new managed satellite service to rural connectivity. The new service is set to provide cellular service to millions of people living in remote and hard-to-reach areas across sub-Saharan Africa by providing high-performance and cost-effective 2G, 3G and 4G solutions to MNOs.