Introduction and Problem Statement

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

There is a unique opportunity in 3GPP to standardize satellite as an integral part in 5G as part of the Release 17 together with the cellular stakeholders given their increasing interest in the topic. This opportunity has to be seized immediately to prevent 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.

Since June 2018, the study item report for Non-Terrestrial-Networks (NTN) TR 38.811 ([1]) is available, including 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 actual running second study item on NTN in Rel-16 ([2], [3]), which will be finalized by March 2020. The study item report [3] is updated continuously, reflecting the agreements in 3GPP on NR solutions for satellite.

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 will be tightly associated with the 3GPP standardization organization process and shall foster the standardization of 5G satellite integration in Releases 16 and 17. 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.

For NTN 5G to be adopted, there is a need that also the New Radio signaling protocols ([4], see below) will have to function over the satellite link on top of PHY and MAC. This activity shall study the impact of the satellite link on the PDPC and RLC protocols, based on the current results from the study item on NTN in 3GPP [3] and shall provide a prototype implementation of the relevant features in these protocol layers to operate over satellite. The work in this activity shall be based on standardization work in 3GPP, especially RAN2 working group, where protocol modifications in RRC, PDCP and RLC to support satellite are currently being discussed within the study item ([2], [3]).

Figure 1: NR User Plane Protocol Stack (left) and Control Plane Stack (right) [4]



  • Real time prototype for New Radio protocol layer PDCP and RLC, adapted to operate over satellite (GEO as first priority and LEO as second priority)
  • Contributions to open source project(s) are considered as a plus.
  • Technical note on findings.

A cooperation with the activity 1 (SDR lower layers) is recommended [5].


The duration of the activity shall not exceed 9 month, with one intermediate review.


The budget of this activity shall not exceed 60000 €.

References and related activites

[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)”, Draft v0.6.0, 2019-04

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

[5] 5G-METEORS 1st Open Call Topic 1 “Realtime SDR – 5G NR over satellite – lower layers”

Proposal Submission

Submit your proposal to this topic here.