Viavi Solutions today announced the availability of base station and end-to-end testing supporting Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) and High Altitude Platforms (HAPs). Wireless technologies are increasingly augmenting traditional 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 entire networks under the unique service link conditions of NTN and HAPs networks.
3GPP Release 17 specifications formally introduced support and guidelines for NTNs, with subsequent releases expected to continue to refine the standards. These specifications will help improve the performance of NTNs, allow them to converge with terrestrial telecoms networks and enable support across existing 5G mobile handsets and chipsets. A VIAVI analysis estimated that the growth in satellite communications will result in approximately 30,000 new satellites orbiting the Earth, significantly expanding the potential of NTNs to provide universal coverage.
Satellite communication in 5G brings another level of complexity for testing. NTNs need to be reliable to cope with the distance, speed and mobility of both 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 take the large doppler shifts from fast-moving satellites and airborne platforms into consideration.
To validate the base station prior to non-terrestrial deployment, the TM500 can emulate 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 ideal for early functional tests such as 3GPP protocol testing and can be applied to both 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.”