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Integrating SATCOM with 5G: What You Need to Know

by Christopher Trick, on Mar 24, 2023 10:50:21 AM

Integrating SATCOM with 5G: What You Need to Know

While 5G offers high-speed wireless connectivity with low latency, it has certain limitations that make it less suitable for long-distance military communication and data transfer needs. 

In this blog, you'll learn more about why SATCOM is being integrated within the 5G ecosystem, how SATCOM and 5G work together for various use cases, and where Trenton's solutions come into play.

What are the weakness of 5G that necessitate the integration of SATCOM?

5G networks have several limitations that make it necessary to use satellite communications (SATCOM) within the military, particularly for critical missions and operations. Here are some of the key weaknesses of 5G:

  1. Limited Coverage: 5G networks are still in the early stages of deployment, and their coverage is limited to urban and suburban areas. This means that in remote or rural areas, 5G signals may be weak or non-existent, making it difficult for military operations to rely on 5G alone.
  2. Vulnerability to Interference: 5G networks operate on higher frequencies than previous generations of wireless technology, which makes them more susceptible to interference from physical obstacles, such as buildings or trees, as well as from intentional jamming or cyberattacks.
  3. Limited Range: 5G networks have a shorter range than previous generations of wireless technology, which makes it more difficult to maintain a reliable connection over long distances, particularly in outdoor environments.
  4. Easy Detection: Due to their higher frequency, 5G signals are easier to detect and intercept than satellite signals, making them more vulnerable to interception by adversaries or malicious actors. This is particularly concerning for military operations that require secure and confidential communication.

Given these weaknesses, the military relies on SATCOM systems to ensure reliable and secure communication, particularly in remote or hostile environments.

SATCOM offers a longer range and greater resiliency against interference and detection, making it a crucial technology for military operations.

How can SATCOM and 5G work together? 

SATCOM and 5G can work together by providing complementary capabilities that enable reliable, secure, and high-speed communication.

Here's how:

Distance

SATCOM can provide communication over long distances, including beyond line-of-sight (BLOS), while 5G can provide communication over shorter distances within line-of-sight (LOS).

Integrating these two networks can ensure seamless communication across different distances, enabling communication from remote or hostile areas to urban or suburban areas.

Redundancy

SATCOM can provide a redundant communication path that is independent of terrestrial communication infrastructure, while 5G can provide a reliable communication path over terrestrial infrastructure.

Integrating these two networks can provide redundancy and resilience in the face of communication disruptions, ensuring continuous communication in adverse conditions.

Speed

5G can provide high-speed, low-latency communication that is ideal for high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming, real-time situational awareness, and data-intensive applications. SATCOM can provide lower-speed communication, but with higher bandwidth and less susceptible to latency, which is ideal for communication in remote or rural areas.

Integrating these two networks can provide a balanced communication system that can handle a variety of communication requirements across different environments.

Security

SATCOM can provide secure communication over encrypted satellite links that are less susceptible to electronic jamming and interception, while 5G can provide secure communication over encrypted wireless links that are more susceptible to interception.

Integrating these two networks can provide a more secure communication system that can handle different security requirements across different environments.

Hybrid networks

A hybrid network combines multiple communication technologies to provide a robust and reliable network that can handle diverse communication requirements.

SATCOM and 5G can work together in a hybrid network to provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity that can be used for different applications such as video streaming, command and control, and situational awareness.

By combining the global reach of SATCOM with the capabilities of 5G, hybrid networks can deliver seamless connectivity across different geographies and terrains.

Network integration

Network integration involves the integration of different communication systems to create a unified network that can support different communication needs.

SATCOM and 5G can be integrated to create a network that provides seamless connectivity across different communication technologies, including cellular, Wi-Fi, and satellite.

This integrated network can be used for various applications, such as remote sensing, unmanned vehicles, and augmented reality.

Multi-domain operations

Multi-domain operations involve the coordination of different domains such as land, air, sea, space, and cyber.

SATCOM and 5G can work together to support multi-domain operations by providing seamless connectivity across different domains.

SATCOM can be used for long-range communication, while 5G can be used for short-range communication, creating a network that can support multi-domain operations.

This can be especially useful for scenarios such as disaster relief, where communication infrastructure may be damaged or destroyed.

Overall, the integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide a more robust, flexible, and adaptable communication system for variety of environments and applications.

How can SATCOM and 5G work together in a military environment? 

SATCOM and 5G can work together by providing complementary capabilities that enable reliable, secure, and high-speed communication across different distances.

How does this apply to different types of communication? 

In a military setting, the integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide several benefits for different types of communication requirements:

  1. Multi-network comms: Military operations often require communication across multiple networks, including satellite, cellular, and Wi-Fi. The integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide a seamless handoff between different networks, allowing military personnel to communicate seamlessly across different networks. This can help to enhance communication reliability and reduce communication downtime.
  2. Ubiquitous comms: Military operations require communication capabilities that are available across different geographies and terrains. SATCOM and 5G can provide ubiquitous communication capabilities by providing global connectivity through satellite and high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity through 5G. This can help to ensure that military personnel have access to communication capabilities in remote and challenging environments.
  3. Tactical comms: Tactical communications refer to communication requirements for military personnel operating in a combat environment. The integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide tactical communication capabilities by providing high-speed, low-latency communication for real-time situational awareness, remote sensing, and unmanned vehicles. This can help to enhance the effectiveness of military operations and improve the safety of military personnel.
  4. Heterogeneous comms: Military operations often require communication across different types of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and sensors. The integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide heterogeneous communication capabilities by enabling communication across different devices and networks. This can help to ensure that military personnel have access to communication capabilities on different devices and networks.
  5. Continuous comms: Military operations require communication capabilities that are always available, even in the face of network disruptions and cyber threats. The integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide continuous communication capabilities by enabling seamless handoff between different networks, providing redundancy and resilience, and implementing cybersecurity measures. This can help to ensure that military personnel have access to communication capabilities at all times, even in challenging environments.

Overall, the integration of SATCOM and 5G can provide a powerful communication infrastructure that can support different types of communication requirements to  improve the effectiveness of military operations.

SATCOM and 5G Use Cases

Naval and maritime environments

In a navy setting, SATCOM can provide reliable communication capabilities over long distances, even in remote areas where terrestrial communication networks may not be available.

However, SATCOM is often limited in terms of bandwidth and latency, which can affect the quality and speed of data transmission. This is where 5G can come in and complement SATCOM by providing high-bandwidth and low-latency communication capabilities for time-sensitive applications, such as real-time video streaming, remote control of unmanned vehicles, and situational awareness.

For example, a naval vessel can use SATCOM for long-range communication with the command center or distant vessels and use 5G for local communication with other vessels, drones, or ground-based units as well as between sensors and shipboard devices.

JADC2 environment

In a Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) environment, SATCOM and 5G can work together to provide seamless communication and information sharing among different military services, domains, and platforms.

SATCOM can provide global coverage and connectivity, while 5G can provide local connectivity and interoperability between different systems and networks.

For example, an airforce drone can use SATCOM to communicate with the command center and use 5G to communicate with ground-based units or other drones in the area.

Similarly, a ground-based unit can use 5G to communicate with nearby units and use SATCOM to communicate with units in remote areas.

Electronic Warfare (EW)

In an Electronic Warfare (EW) scenario, SATCOM and 5G can work together to provide secure and resilient communication capabilities that are immune to jamming, interception, and other types of interference.

SATCOM can provide a backup communication channel in case the terrestrial network is jammed or disrupted, while 5G can provide a secure and resilient communication network for local communication between different units and platforms.

For example, a ground-based unit can use 5G for local communication and use SATCOM as a backup channel in case the 5G network is jammed or disrupted by enemy forces.

Where does Trenton Systems come into play?

At Trenton Systems, we provide TAA-compliant, COTS HPC solutions with SATCOM and 5G capabilities for secure, high-speed, low-latency compute, ubiquitous connectivity, and bidirectional communication across domains. 

Working closely with our partnership ecosystem and subject matter experts, our  tactical network, mobile edge deployments come pre-equipped with real-time OS,  security and enhancements at the hardware, firmware, software, and network levels, and pre-installed applications that handle radio frequency signals of all sorts.

Undetected and open-architecture designed, our fully integrated end-to-end (E2E) solutions sit at the heart of your mission to convert signals into the desired state,  quickly and securely in the field. This allows for fast communication back to a command and control center for decisive action in real-time.

Closing thoughts

Satellite communications (SATCOM) and 5G networks can work together to provide reliable, secure, and high-speed communication across environments. 

While 5G networks have limitations such as limited coverage, vulnerability to interference, limited range, and easy detection, SATCOM offers longer range and greater resiliency against interference and detection.

The integration of these two technologies can provide complementary capabilities, including communication across different distances, redundancy, speed, security, hybrid networks, network integration, and support for multi-domain operations.

This can provide a more robust, flexible, and adaptable communication system for a variety of environments and applications, including various kinds of communication, naval environments, JADC2 ecosystems, and electronic warfare.

Companies like Trenton Systems provide 5G-powered computing solutions that support SATCOM to help securely process, analyze, and transfer massive amounts of data at the network edge in seconds, delivering actionable insights at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels.

Want to learn more? Just drop us a line anytime here.

We'd be more than happy to help. 🙂

Topics:Military computers5G TechnologySATCOM

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