Introduction and problem statement

After a number of years of research and technical development the initial 5G New Radio (NR) technology according to Release 15 is now deployed as mainstream technology serving the public and industry. SImilarly to LTE, there will be several evolutions of New Radio within the upcoming 3GPP releases. Many extensions are currently under investigation in 3GPP to enable addressing markets by cellular based communication systems, like automotive, positioning and industrial production/automation.

3GPP Release 17 represents a unique opportunity to standardize satellite as an integral part of 5Gtogether with the cellular stakeholders given their increasing interest in the topic. This opportunity has to be seized immediately to eliminate the risk of a postponement of the standard development to future Releases beyond 17 while SatCom users and service providers are calling for standardized solutions.

The 5G METEORS vision is to implement and operate a framework supporting dynamic prototyping in the 5G satellite convergence domain, responding in an agile manner to technology developments driven by the market and the standardization work in 3GPP to support satellites in 5G. More specifically, 5G METEORS plans to draw on the expertise, knowledge and know-how developed and accumulated in Germany in the 5G and satellite communication domains by experts at academia, in small and large enterprises, as well as by entrepreneurs, and offer an opportunity to further expand through a series of prototyping and concept validation activities.

5G METEORS activities are tightly associated with the 3GPP standardization process and shall foster the standardization of 5G satellite integration in 3GPP Release 17 and beyond. For all 5G METEORS activities, their topic match and their timeliness will be evaluated in regard of the overall 3GPP schedule for the upcoming releases and especially for the work to support satellite in 5G.

The 3GPP study item report for Non-Terrestrial-Networks (NTN) TR 38.811 ([1]) is available since June 2018, and includes the referenced documents in this activity definition. TR 38.811 summarizes the identification of New Radio impacts for satellite operation and gives recommendations for the recent second study item on NTN in Rel-16 ([2], [3]) that was finalized in December 2019. The final 3GPP study item report [3] is available, reflecting the agreements in 3GPP on NR solutions for satellite.

However, the direct transmission of NR over satellite is not necessary and relevant in all use cases – the radio transmission can also be implemented via non-3GPP wireless transmission systems. The figures below from TS 23.501 [7] and TS 24.502 [8] give an overview of the architecture and necessary protocols stack in case of a non-3GPP radio access, where the UEs are still integrated in the 5G system.

There is currently a normative Work Item in 3GPP SA2 working group on the joint 5G system  architecture with integrated satellite component (SP-191335, [9]), based on the previous Study Item report (TR 23.737, [6]) on NTN key issues and solutions in the 5G architecture.

Figure 1: Non-Roaming architecture for 5G core network with non-3GPP access [7]
Figure 2: User Plane via N3IWF [7]
Figure 3: Control Plane before the signalling IPsec SA is established between UE and N3IWF [8]
Figure 4: Control Plane after the signalling IPsec SA is established between UE and N3IWF [8]

Deliverables and Output

  • Real time testbed, comprising
    • 5G Core supporting N3IWF;
    • Commercial satellite transmission chain to emulate the satellite transmission via non-3GPP radio transmission and interfacing to the N3IWF in the 5G core;
  • Technical note on findings.

Duration and schedule (mid term milestone and review, if applicable)

The maximum duration of this activity should not exceed 8 months to be in line with 3GPP discussions, and an intermediate milestone is foreseen.

Maximum budget available for the activity

The budget of this activity shall not exceed 40.000 €.

Proposal Submission

Submit your proposal to this topic here.


[1] 3GPP TR 38.811 “Study on New Radio (NR) to support non terrestrial networks (Release 15)”, V15.0.0, 2018-06

[2] 3GPP RP-190710 “Study on solutions for NR to support non-terrestrial networks (NTN)”, Thales, 3GPP TSG RAN meeting #83, Shenzhen, China, March 18-21, 2019

[3] 3GPP TR 38.821 “Solutions for NR to support non-terrestrial networks (NTN) (Release 16)”,  v1.2.0, 2019-12

[4] 3GPP TS 38.300 “NR; NR and NG-RAN Overall Description; Stage 2 (Release 15)”, v15.5.0, 2019-03

[5] 3GPP RP-193234, “Work Item Description: Solutions for NR to support non-terrestrial networks (NTN)”, Sitges, Spain, December 2019

[6] 3GPP TR 23.737, “Study on architecture aspects for using satellite access in 5G”, 12-2019

[7] 3GPP TS 23.501, “System Architecture for the 5G System; Stage 2”

[8] 3GPP TS 24.502, “Access to the 3GPP 5G Core Network (5GCN) via Non-3GPP Access Networks (N3AN); Stage 3”

[9] 3GPP SP-191335,  “Integration  of  satellite  systems  in  the  5G  architecture   (Release  17),  5GSAT_ARCH”,  Sitges,  Spain,  December  2019