RF- and mm-Wave specialist, Filtronic, has been awarded a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the use of D-band links within future 6G satellite systems. This is part of a collaborative partnership led by leading independent consulting firm, Plum Consulting with Sussex University.
The contract, which will run for 18 months from October 2023, has been awarded through the European Space Agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme, with the support of the UK Space Agency (UKSA). This follows Filtronic’s previous success with the ARTES programme, having been awarded funding to develop a technology for the ESA that enables high-frequency gateway links from satellites to ground stations.
With the ever-increasing demand for data, higher capacity is going to be required in 6G satellite systems. Filtronic is perfectly placed to support this project due to its experience in moving up the frequency spectrum for 5G Xhaul networks, where the need for links up to 100Gbps has already been identified.
These frequencies offer a wide bandwidth, which could support very high bitrate communications. Exploiting such high frequencies, however, presents significant engineering challenges in terms of propagation through the atmosphere, systems design and coordination with other radio services within the framework of the ITU Radio Regulations.
“Filtronic is honoured to have been selected for this ESA project, along with Plum Consulting and Sussex University,” explained Mark Whetton, Business Development Director at Filtronic. “6G is expected to give rise to an abundance of new services, while improving the capabilities of existing ones. It’s certainly an exciting movement to be a part of.”
Dr Richard Rudd of Plum Consulting said “Two important current trends in communications are the exploitation of even-higher frequencies and the integration of terrestrial, aerial and satellite platforms to provide seamless connectivity. This study for ESA will quantify the opportunities and challenges involved in opening up D-band spectrum for such applications, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with the expert teams at Sussex and Filtronic in this work”.
“6G is the next generation of mobile communication technologies, currently under research by our research centre aimed at providing superior wireless connectivity performance and enabling innovative applications beyond the current 5G use cases.” Said Professor Falah Ali. Professor of Communications Engineering, Sussex University. “With non-terrestrial networks expected to form a fully integrated part of 6G, this project will deliver important research and recommendations relating to the use of spectrum above 100GHz for 6G satellite communications. We are excited to work on this collaborative research project with Plum Consulting and Filtronic in shaping future standards.”
Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “As we rely increasingly on satellite communications across all aspects of our daily lives, innovations that improve and expand the scope of these services have become an economic engine for the global space sector.
““This project, using Filtronic technology backed by the UK Space Agency through the ARTES programme to explore 6G capabilities, in partnership with Plum and Sussex is a brilliant example of how the UK is excelling in this area; exploiting opportunities to enhance services that make our lives better and contribute to the growth of our thriving satellite communications and wider space sector.”
For more information about Filtronic and its existing product range, visit filtronic.com.