Space and satellite communications continue to gain weight in the telecommunications industry. This is demonstrated by the fact that non-terrestrial networks are increasingly taken into account by bodies as important as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which regularly brings together the main players in the sector to define the various communication standards.
Information received from Marco Guadalupi, Co-Founder and CTO of Sateliot, the plenary meetings of the 3GPP (TSG RAN, TSG SA and TSG CT) occurred during the first weeks of December, 2020. These meetings are held every three months and serve to monitor and approve the specifications issued by the different working groups, as well as to establish the time and resource planning assigned to the multiple study topics and regulatory developments underway.
Taking into account the possibility of resuming the face-to-face meetings – as until now the work has been carried out by means of virtual meetings and email, given the limitations imposed by COVID19 – one of the most relevant decisions taken in these plenaries has been the approval of the final calendar for Release 17 which, mainly due to the current situation, has been delayed until June 2022 (“coding freeze”).
In addition to setting the deadline for the conclusion of Release 17, December 2021 was also established as the date for decisions to be taken on which improvements and extensions will be developed in the next Release 18, which will start work at the beginning of 2022.
In regard to the development of the 3GPP specifications for satellite communications of interest to the Sateliot project, referred to as Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), the heads of the different working groups (e.g., NR-NTN, IoT-NTN) have presented the progress of activities and the planning of work for the coming months, which continues to progress as planned.
At a more technical level, one of the points that has received most attention in the NTN field has been the formulation of the set of principles that will govern the work related to the specification of new frequency bands for NTN deployments, which has already begun within the RAN4 working group.
The next working meetings of this body are scheduled for January. To this end, Sateliot is already working on new contributions that will allow the consideration of deployment scenarios with nanosatellites in the development of NTN solutions for IoT.