A real-world demonstration of a key technology, being developed in partnership with the European Space Agency's (ESA) Space for 5G/6G programme line, has been conducted by advanced networking and laser communications technologies company Aalyria. The technology – Aalyria's Spacetime software platform – made use of more than 630 satellites to create a mesh network that could allow for secure, resilient, low-latency data communications globally and across land, air, sea and space.
The activity, which was orchestrated across Europe and the United States, featured a multi-orbit, multi-band and multi-domain network that integrated commercial partner assets – one of which included the 5G/6G Hub based at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) in Harwell, United Kingdom, with officials from the UK Space Agency present. The remaining real-world, in-orbit and ground-based fixed mobile assets were contributed and integrated in partnership with the Naval Research Lab (NRL), OneWeb, Intelsat and Comtech, with Viasat offering tactical communications.
Not only did Spacetime demonstrate the reallocation of network resources and reconstitution of connectivity services within seconds in response to the unexpected simulated loss of a satellite, it also rapidly reconnected in the event of the introduction of simulated jamming effects, terrestrial fibre outages, or changes to the end-to-end data rate and latency.
Spacetime also proved the ability to allocate network resources and task first-party network elements, such as government owned and operated satellites and airborne mesh networks. It did this while also orchestrating intelligent, proactive network switching and roaming across third-party satellite services as a single software-defined network.
“It was an impressive event, showcasing Terrestrial Network (TN)/Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) orchestration capabilities, and I am delighted that we could contribute from the 5G/6G Hub at ESA ECSAT,” said Antonio Franchi, Head of the 5G/6G NTN Programme Office. “I would like to thank the Aalyria team, and my team for their dedication – and without whom, we would not have been able to support this important demo.”
Through funding offered by the Directorate of Connectivity and Secure Communications’ Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) 4.0 programme, and support from the UKSA, ESA has previously awarded a development contract to Aalyria to build a software platform to harness the power of satellites, high-altitude platforms and drones to support 5G/6G connectivity. The project aims to build 5G/6G NTN compatibility into Aalyria’s Spacetime system.
ESA’s Space for 5G/6G programme line demonstrates the essential nature of satellites for 5G and 6G, working with the European industry to set the standard and frameworks for hybrid and downstream interoperability. It serves as the base for integrating terrestrial networks and satellites.