“5G networks: The next big opportunity for satellite and wireless industries”

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What are the current technological advances in the satellite industry? How to ensure interoperability between multiple co-existing technologies in the future?  What are the challenges in the deployment of 5G networks? Find the answers to these questions and more at WiSATS 20179th EAI International Conference on Wireless and Satellite Systems (September 14-15, Oxford, Great Britain). We have had the opportunity to gain some insights from Dr. Hector Fenech (Director of Future Satellite Systems, Eutelsat) about wireless and satellite systems, access to digital networks, and what to expect from the forthcoming conference.

Could you summarize the scope of your current work and what you are coming to share with everyone at WISATS 2017?

As Director of Future Satellite Systems at Eutelsat, my responsibility is to drive technology developments and have a constant watch on trends and innovation that can generate growth today and remain relevant throughout the life cycle of satellites that frequently last more than 20 years.

My main involvement can be described as Phase A where we define the communication mission requirements of a satellite programme based on commercial and operational requirements. The main tasks are system engineering which encompasses performing a preliminary system design in order to assess the feasibility and requirements.

I have been with Eutelsat for 28 years and involved in approximately 40 Eutelsat satellite programmes. Over this period, there have been significant developments in satellite and ground technology that have transformed satellites into an essential component of digital communications networks.

What do you see as the biggest challenges that wireless and satellite systems are currently facing?

The great challenge and opportunity we face is how to ensure everyone has equitable access to the benefits of digital networks, whether it’s for watching TV, using the Internet or accessing services connected with health, education, employment etc. Spectrum needs to be thoughtfully allocated and networks must be deployed intelligently, for example using the efficiency of satellites for complementing terrestrial networks. Interoperability is also a critical issue, for example in the deployment of 5G networks that are the next big opportunity for satellite and wireless industries.

How do you see research and industry moving forward and tackling these challenges?

Churchill said necessity is the mother of invention. This statement is still true. Perhaps the concept of necessity has changed since today we create necessities. In Churchill’s days, the Internet and mobile devices didn’t exist and therefore couldn’t have been necessities. Today they are!

Perhaps today the statement can also be reversed invention is the mother of necessity. Research and consequently invention create necessities. Technology leads to services, services become necessities. The challenge would be: how can multiple technologies co-exist to deliver services in the most transparent way over a wide range of environments?

What would you say are the main trends in this area that are showing promise?

We are undergoing the worldwide process of connecting citizens on land, at sea and in-flight, and beyond this will connect objects around the globe. This presents a massive opportunity for satellite and wireless industries: market forecasts say that by 2023 there will be 5.8 million M2M and IoT terminals via satellite worldwide.  From an industrial perspective, the satellite industry is experiencing significant technological advances that include software-programmed satellites, 3D printed components, electric propulsion and a new generation of launchers that are all breathing new life into our industry and expanding our relevance for an ever-growing range of applications.

Learn more and register for WiSATS 2017.

Editorial Staff

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