Release 17 – What’s All the Fuss About?


3GPP´s Release 17 defines functionalities for New Radio as well as NB-IoT in satellite systems. It is expected to be finalized in June 2022, to go live in satellite systems shortly thereafter. If you are a satellite operator and/or service provider who is not very familiar with 3GPP or the upcoming releases, but who would like to understand the fuss about what Release 17 is, this webinar is for you.

We discuss the purpose of bringing NB-IoT with Release 17 into space and what the expected features will be. Examples of supported use cases in the required system architecture are discussed on a high level, as well.

This webinar is the first of a two-part series, with part 2 addressing the system architecture, focusing on requirements for UEs, the satellites, and the ground infrastructure.

On demand


How will LEO satellites work with Rel-17?

3GPP Release 17 supports Non-Terrestrial connectivity using, for example, satellites in transparent mode. While connected in transparent mode, both service and feeder link must be active simultaneously to obtain service. Signals are mirrored by the satellite between user terminal and ground station. In the case of LEO satellites, connectivity to a ground station must be established before service can be provided to user terminals. Hence, connectivity is provided while the satellite is visible.

How will the regenerative mode help out on LEO networks?

Compared to the transparent mode (Rel-17), the regenerative mode will include enhancements and optimizations for NGSO satellite systems, considering the moving of the non-Geostationary satellites, enabling efficient blind search of user devices, etc. The regenerative will enable UEs to communicate with the NodeB even when a feeder link is not active, and makes communication everywhere on the globe possible. In the regenerative mode, the NodeB will be located on the satellites themselves.

How can we be sure that our GEO system will be able to run Rel-17 compliant services?

Being able to support 5G NB-IoT services with a GEO system depends on various factors, all going back to your system infrastructure and set-up (e.g what bands you are operating on, what capacity you have, what user devices, which antennas are required, etc.). We can help you in generating a neutral, third party answer to this, with our 3GPP and NTN expertise we apply when developing the software for those systems. More specifically, we can help you in answering this question, by designing an individual pre-assessment or feasibility study based on your individual needs and system set-up. The goal is to verify the viability of supporting 5G NB-IoT, and to calculate the system capacity and business case, for example.

For this, we bring in our expertise for simulations of the link budget, and the assessment of the system capabilities. Pilot projects (lab tests, proof of concepts, and in orbit demonstrations) are also on our agenda, with the goal to pave your way to a commercial 5G NB-IoT NTN system.

Read more about our feasibility study and our 5G NTN Network Emulator 


How are power consumption and line of sight going to affect hybrid connectivity?

The 3GPP standards specify multimode user terminals that are capable of obtaining service without modifications on both terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks. Tests have been conducted with hardware conforming to earlier releases where only software was modified to obtain service. Hence, power consumption is expected to be equal to previous releases for user terminals working in hybrid mode. To close the link budget user terminals are expected to have line of sight visibility to satellites when used on satellite based networks.

What are the solutions to the synchronization in the presence of Dopper spread considering the relatively short satellite visibility time?

With help of the NPSS, NSSS and NRS, a signal can be detected, and during the decoding of it, the frequency offset can be determined. That this frequency offset can be very high and becomes lower, the closer the satellite comes to the UE can be calculated and resolved by the processing algorithm.

What is required of the devices in order to support NB-IoT?

It is expected that standard, off-the-shelf chipsets will be used, alongside with standard NB-IoT supporting devices which we know from terrestrial networks today. The 5G NB-IoT for space needs to be able to run on them, which will be enabled by supporting chipsets. 

Will it be possible to use the satellites for data transmission in connected mode or is connectivity restricted to disconnected mode via the random access procedure?

There are no changes to the protocol or services available under 3GPP release 17 for non-terrestrial networks. A PDP Context can be established and maintained for data transmission as for terrestrial networks. Hence it is not needed to apply the random access procedure as long as the connection is not broken. For NGSO communication, the transmission will be likely a few minutes, and for GEO transmission the context can be kept longer active.

Is 3GPP going to implement and approve DVB-S into 5G NR?

Even as a member of the 3GPP, Gatehouse Satcom does not have full insight into the future evolutions of 5G, but we follow it closely and use our influence accordingly. Changes and additions to the standards are agreed upon between contributing participants. We are also well aware of DVB-S, and in some backhauling solutions DVB-S is used over the satellite link to connect remote NodeB to the Core Network.

How complex is the integration of cellular core with satellite core?

GateHouse SatCom is building NodeB to be integrated in Satellite networks in three different scenarios:

1) on the ground supporting transparent mode,

2) in the satellite supporting in-orbit processing and regenerative mode, and

3) at the remote side supporting backhauling of 5G services establishing a remote cell.

We are working with suppliers of LTE and 5G Core Network, but unfortunately we have no insight into the complexity of integrating a cellular core into a satellite core.

There are already existing satellite core networks build on 3G and 4G cell core networks offering mobile data services.

What are the challenges of using transparent mode in NGSO systems?

We see two issues with the use of transparent mode in NGSO systems. 1) As the satellites are only visible from both ground station and user terminals in a relatively short time period it is only possible to obtain service in smaller time intervals. 2) Since ground stations must be located in the same satellite footprint as the user terminals there will be large parts of the earth surface like the oceans where is not possible to obtain services.