On May 16, 2024, Alessandro Vanelli Coralli, 6G-NTN Project Coordinator and Nicolas Chuberre, 6G-NTN Technical Coordinator presented at the ETSI webinar “Essential Discussions about Non-Terrestrial Networks for 6G.” The event, moderated by David Boswarthick, Director New Technologies (NET) at ETSI brought together four experts who discussed the priority areas for 6G and NTN.

Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs) are wireless communication platforms operating above the surface of the Earth, typically achieved using satellites in low, medium, or geostationary orbit, as well as drones, High Altitude Platforms (HAPS), and other aerial systems. Since the 3GPP Release 17, there is now a general agreement that future 6G will feature the “native integration” of NTN from the outset.

Recognizing the importance of this topic and due to the ever-growing interest in 6G and NTN, ETSI recently held a conference “Non-Terrestrial Networks, a Native Component of 6G,” which brought together hundreds of experts in satellite, telecoms and standardization who examined NTN use cases, candidate technologies, current research status, as well as standardization roadmaps. Many key messages were identified, with initial actions proposed, however, ETSI identified the need for further exchanges around the topic, hence it decided to organize a follow-up webinar to facilitate further discussions.

The webinar featured expert presentations by Javier Albares Bueno, Head of 5G/6G Program, Smart Network and Services Joint Undertaking; Nicolas Chuberre, 6G-NTN Technical Coordinator, 3GPP NTN Rapporteur, Thales; Maria Guta, Senior 5G 6G SatCom Solutions Architect in the European Space Agency (ESA); and Alessandro Vanelli Coralli, 6G-NTN Project Coordinator, UNIBO, and an open Panel Session featuring questions from the moderator and the online audience.

Key takeaways from the webinar:

  • NTN is already supported/integrated into the 5G ecosystem, and it is set to become a native component of 6G.
  • NTN will continue to enable several key 6G capabilities, such as ubiquitous coverage and resiliency while enhancing reliability, positioning, and more.
  • 6G NTN will evolve the architecture concepts developed in 5G through innovative constellations and platform design, such as split architectures and flexible and reconfigurable payloads.
  • Smart routing and resource management in space shall be developed to enable full exploitation of the architectural flexibility.
  • Waveform shall natively evolve to address NTN characteristics, as well as new applications, such as massive non-orthogonal access and integrated sensing and communications.
  • Proactive cooperation between satellite, terrestrial, and vertical sectors is essential to define the evolution of NTN.
  • Research and standardization synergies shall be exploited for the fast development of 6G NTN standards. 
  • The evolution of 3GPP-defined NTN versus proprietary stand-alone satellite network solutions will be an interesting area to be followed.

About ETSI

ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) is a recognized regional standards body dealing with telecommunications, broadcasting and other electronic communications networks and services. ETSI has over 850 member organizations from over 60 countries and five continents. The organization operates on a not-for-profit basis and it is one of only three bodies officially recognized by the EU as a European Standards Organization. ETSI regularly organizes webinars to promote or highlight particular aspects of its work. Webinar topics range across the broad spectrum of ETSI’s activities. They can be high-level overviews or deep dives into individual technologies. Together they create a body of knowledge on ETSI’s work.