NTN and HAPs network testing for 5G and 6G satellite communication

29-08-2023 | Viavi Solutions | Test & Measurement

Viavi Solutions Inc offers the base station and end-to-end testing supporting NTN and HAPs. Wireless technologies are increasingly supplementing conventional terrestrial communication networks, with satellite communications helping to provide near-complete coverage. The Viavi TM500 and TeraVM test platforms validate the conformance, performance and reliability of gNodeBs and complete networks under the unique service link conditions of NTN and HAPs networks.

3GPP Release 17 specifications formally introduced support and guidelines for NTNs, with the following releases anticipated to continue to refine the standards. These specifications will assist in improving the performance of NTNs, enabling them to converge with terrestrial telecoms networks and allow support across existing 5G mobile handsets and chipsets. A company analysis estimated that the growth in satellite communications will result in around 30,000 new satellites orbiting the Earth, greatly extending the potential of NTNs to deliver universal coverage.

Satellite communication in 5G brings another level of complexity for testing. NTNs must be reliable to cope with the distance, speed and mobility of satellite, HAPs and User Equipment (UE) while still delivering on performance. Test solutions are not only required to emulate different UE mobility and fading profiles, but they must also consider the large Doppler shifts from fast-moving satellites and airborne platforms.

To validate the base station before non-terrestrial deployment, the TM500 emulates a high volume of devices, new mobility patterns, signal propagation delays, and other conditions unique to NTN, while TeraVM emulates the core network. This test scenario is excellent for early functional tests such as 3GPP protocol testing and can be applied to regenerative and transparent architectures. Further test scenarios are focused on testing and optimizing the network end-to-end, using a real core to validate the performance and reliability of the entire network.

"NTNs offer new opportunities and partnerships for mobile and satellite operators and the exciting potential to offer connectivity to both underserved and over-populated areas as well as support mission-critical applications," said Ian Langley, senior vice president, Wireless Business Unit, VIAVI. "However, amidst the growing interest and race to deploy these networks, it's vital that reliability, stability, and performance testing are done to ensure success."

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By Seb Springall