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ZTE Corporation has announced its collaboration with China Mobile Research Institute, China Transport Telecommunications & Information Group, the Beijing Branch of China Mobile and other partners to showcase what it calls the world’s first 5G NTN (Non-Terrestrial Network) field trial at the 5G-Advanced Industry Development Summit in Beijing.

The company said in its press release that this brings achievement breakthroughs in two aspects, ultra-long distances as far as 36,000 km and direct connection between mobile phones, that are enabled by two innovations including dynamic compensation of big latency and RF data conversion between the satellite and terrestrial.

The trial was end-to-end and demonstrated services such as short messages and voice services, both with satisfactory performances. The trial included a comprehensive set of tests of the direct connection between the mobile phone and the satellite, which supports a network with ubiquitous connectivity, more use cases, highly integrated industry chains and low O&M costs.

The trial was based on the 3GPP R17 and on a network architecture using high-orbit satellites for transparent forwarding to implement end-to-end link interconnection among terminals, satellites, terrestrial gateways, base stations, core networks and servers.

The L-band satellite and terrestrial gateways, located between the NTN terminal and the base station, were responsible for air-interface message transmission. The terrestrial gateways were interconnected with the 5G NTN base station. The terminal was connected to the terrestrial core network and service platform through the satellite, gateways and NTN base station in turn to implement end-to-end service interconnection.

During this trial, communication cases such as synchronization, broadcasting, accessing and data transmission, and services such as short text messages and voice messages were successfully tested. The latency of 64-byte ping is about 4s. The performance met the expectations, indicating the solution is very likely feasible. In the future, there will be emergency communication service pilot projects in Beijing, Yunnan and other provinces.

Together with the terrestrial network, the 5G non-terrestrial network (5G NTN) forms an integrated ubiquitous network with a variety of use cases, highly integrated industry chains and low O&M costs. It uses satellite communication for powerful coverage to meet people’s demands for better accessibility of the mobile internet around the world and provide emergency, marine, remote areas and IoT communication services, facilitating the comprehensive development of CHBN (Customer, Home, Business, New).

The satellite telecommunication network can reuse the cellular network and significantly reduce terminal cost. In addition, the number of cellular network base stations and centralized deployment can significantly reduce deployment and O&M costs.

In this new stage of 5G-Advanced, this end-to-end 5G NTN field trial’s success helps build a solid foundation for a direct phone-to-satellite communication business model. This service provides users with more reliable and consistent experiences and connects space, air, ground and sea, forming an integrated ubiquitous network.

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