Intelsat say that industry operators must properly consider the role that satellite technology can play in rolling out 5G before standards are finalised

Regulatory bodies must involve satellite operators in their 5G plans to fully maximise the potential of next generation mobile networks, according to industry experts.

Speaking exclusively to Total Teelecom at the ConnecTechAsia event in Singapore this week, Terry Bleakley, regional vice president for Asia Pacific at Intelsat said that satellite had a major role to play in the rollout of 5G, right across the world.

"We see a huge opportunity with 5G. The thing that we have learnt from 3G, 4G and LTE is that we need to be a lot more involved on the standards side of things. We need to be more proactive on satellite and not end up having to work out after the fact how we are going to integrate satellite into the ecosystem.

"We’ve been working with 3GPP who, as you know are a consortium of seven standards agencies from across the world. We have been trying to raise the profile of satellite through the 3GPP group, so that when they have their conversations about the need for multiple access technologies and the need to integrate that into 5G, the they can specifically mention satellite as a technology that can help to make 5G be fully realised," he said.

Bleakley says that satellite technology may be especially important in the early days of 5G, while network coverage is still patchy.

"The challenges that 5G has with densification, with the speeds they are looking to hit, hybrid networks are certainly going to be a crucial thing in the future, and satellite is going to be a part of that. We believe that satellite can come out of its own shadow a little bit with 5G.

"We are starting to get a lot of traction on that front. Satelite is starting to be mentioned in instances where it wasn’t before, especially with the throughput of satellite systems increasing now.

"The thing to remember with 5G is that, depending on what spectrum they end up using for it, the distance you are going to get from your base station is going to be a lot less than with LTE. So that’s why you need network densification – you need a lot more cell sites than you need for 4G and that’s going to be a big cost.

"Operators aren’t going to be able to lay fibre everywhere that it is needed and certainly not right away, so sateleit e can be used in those areas as a gap filler in the early days of 5G.

"Over the longer term its brilliantly suited to serve those hard to reach locations where it isn’t viable to lay fibre.

"Ultimately, we need fibre, we need wireless technology and we need satellite technology to help make 5G a reality," he said.