September 20

Bridging the New Frontier with 5G Satellite Networks

The convergence of IoT over NTN (Non-Terrestrial Networks) under 3GPP Release 17 with the broader expansion into 5G satellite networks signals a landmark shift in the telecommunications and IoT industries. These collaborative efforts not only break the terrestrial limitations but also offer a more comprehensive, secure, and adaptable environment for myriad applications.

Let's delve into how the key features of IoT over NTN under Release 17 synergize with the larger framework of 5G and future 6G satellite networks.

New Radio Protocols Meet Satellite Vendors

The IoT over NTN project, which is part of 3GPP release 17, focuses on overcoming the unique challenges of satellite communication like longer propagation delays and Doppler shifts. Or in other words release 17 is enabling the launch of satellite-based 5G communications.

To develop this market, we’ll see the entry of a new player into the telecommunications ecosystem: satellite vendors. These vendors will collaborate with traditional network operators to develop new radio protocols and technologies that are optimized for space-based communications. This joint expertise promises to make the communication link more efficient, robust, and seamless.

System Architecture: A Symbiotic Relationship

The new system architecture under IoT over NTN likely includes specialized gateway nodes that serve as intermediaries, efficiently relaying data between terrestrial and satellite networks. In the same vein, the entrance of satellite vendors promises to develop NTNs that complement existing terrestrial systems.

This dovetailing of architecture ensures that the telecommunications infrastructure is robust, scalable, and versatile, capable of serving a range of use-cases from urban environments to the most remote areas.

Security in the Diverse Network Ecosystem

The emphasis on new security protocols in IoT over NTN is particularly important given the new types of players and technologies entering the telecom arena. As satellite vendors become part of the ecosystem, the security protocols would not only ensure the integrity of data in terrestrial networks but also in the new, expansive NTN landscape. This offers a more robust security apparatus that is adaptable to various kinds of vulnerabilities, whether on Earth or in space.

Impact Across Industries and Beyond Traditional Use-Cases

By expanding the reach of IoT technologies, IoT over NTN opens up multiple avenues for practical applications across different sectors:

  • Asset Tracking: For instance, a shipping container could be monitored in real-time throughout its entire journey across international waters, providing precise location data and environmental conditions within the container.
  • Environmental Monitoring: In remote areas where terrestrial networks are hard to establish, environmental metrics such as air quality, water levels, and soil moisture could be continuously monitored. This could be particularly important for understanding climate change effects or for early warning systems for natural disasters.
  • Disaster Response: In cases where terrestrial networks are compromised due to natural disasters, IoT over NTN can serve as an alternative communication channel. This could enable quicker deployment of emergency services and better coordination among rescue teams.

With the added provisions in 3GPP releases 18, 19, and even for future 6G networks in release 20, NTNs are set to offer more comprehensive services. Satellites can thus progress past their traditional roles in weather monitoring, global positioning, and broadcasting to provide low-latency, high-throughput data services that can even compete with terrestrial networks.

Future-Proofing and Commercial Viability

The ongoing and planned enhancements in releases 18, 19, and 20 demonstrate that the 3GPP is future-proofing the technology, ensuring that it remains relevant and adaptable. On the commercial side, the introduction of satellite vendors and the growing interest from existing industry players indicate a market ripe for innovation.

These synergies are expected to result in a range of new products, services, and perhaps even entirely new business models, significantly expanding the $17 billion opportunity estimated for 5G satellite networks.


The collaborative efforts under 3GPP Release 17 for IoT over NTN and the broader developments around 5G and future 6G satellite networks represent more than just a technological advance. They signify a paradigm shift in how we conceptualize and implement communication networks.

By amalgamating terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks and by extending IoT's capabilities beyond Earth-bound limitations, these initiatives are setting the stage for a truly global, secure, and versatile communication ecosystem.

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5G, 5G Networks, 6G Networks, Non-Terrestrial Network, NTN, Satellite Networks

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