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6G Research Hub

A NEW MOBILE PHONE GENERATION EMERGES EVERY 10 YEARS. WITH EVERY GENERATION, THE MAXIMUM DATA RATES USUALLY doubles. With the leap from 5G to 6G, however, the data rate is expected to increase by a factor of 100.

The sixth generation (6G) is now expected for 2030. With 5G, the focus was on implementing networks with the shortest possible delay (latency) for industry. With 6G, on the other hand, global network coverage will have an even more significant role. A mainstay of 6G will therefore probably be constellations of small satellites in low earth orbit to be able to communicate with each other even when terrestrial networks are not available. Other technologies that can develop their full potential through use in 6G are Joint Communication and Sensing, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Communication.strial networks are unavailable.

6G Research Hub

As part of the 6G research field, a terrestrial mobile radio network is being set up for research purposes on the campus of the Universität der Bundeswehr München. In the process, the end devices will be able to communicate with each other via the SeRANIS satellite ATHENE1. The network will be expanded in three phases over the entire campus. The university campus is particularly suitable because of the realistic building structure. Thus, there are areas with urban development and with rural characteristics on the site. This enables particularly realistic measurements.

The campus also has a research ground station for satellite communication that is unique in Europe. In the course of the SeRANIS project, this will be equipped with a laser communication terminal which, in combination with the ATHENE1 satellite, will then extend the test mobile communication network into space. The satellite itself will act either as a relay station in space or directly as a base station. Within the framework of the small satellite mission, parts of the future mobile radio protocols will be operated in space for the first time, bringing the “flying cell tower” in space a little closer to reality.

CORE OBJECTIVES AND UNIQUE FEATURE

Our goal is to realise a satellite payload that is as flexible as possible in order to be able to operate and research various mobile radio protocols directly on the satellite. To allow software updates for our 6G on-board base station during the mission, a flexible FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array, a specially programmable integrated circuit) and processor architecture will be used. By interacting with the terrestrial cellular network on the ground, we have a unique infrastructure to conduct experiments for 6G research.

As a lighthouse project in the field of 6G satellite integration, we enable a unique test and experiment environment in interaction with our national and European research partners to significantly influence the standardisation towards 6G. In particular, the feasibility and operability of a 6G on-board base station for LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites will be demonstrated.

WHAT DO WE AIM TO ACHIEVE?

The ATHENE1 satellite will serve as a technology platform for the evaluation of satellite-based 6G services and enable us to demonstrate extensive communication experiments in interaction with the terrestrial mobile radio network.

In this way, we want to make a contribution to future mobile radio standardisation, taking LEO satellites into account. At this point, especially governmental use cases for 6G networks play a major role.

PARTICIPATING INSTITUTES AND CONTACT

Institute of Information Technology
Institute for Microelectronics and Integrated Circuits
Institute of Communications Engineering and Data Transmission Technology

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