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Building an ecosystem for research and development in non-terrestrial networks (satellite and HAP) and B5G (3GPP rel. 17 and later)

The integration of 5G and non-terrestrial network (NTN) segments has the potential to bring advanced communication services everywhere, enabling digital transformation in rural areas and enabling new services to support, for example, the deployment of the Internet of Things over large geographic areas. Existing standardized solutions in 3GPP R15 and R16 only partially address the integration of 5G and non-terrestrial network (NTN) segments, including satellites and HAPs (high-altitude pseudo-satellites).

This project will comprehensively address the deployment of Edge in non-terrestrial networks and how to integrate them with the new 3GPP R17 version and beyond, with special attention to the development of network architecture solutions. The ultimate goal of the project is to help position Spain as a technology leader in this area with direct benefits for the Spanish telecommunications and space industry. This includes the development of key technologies that are expected to be transferred to the industry, as well as the associated intellectual property rights. On a larger scale, the project will help make advanced communication services a reality everywhere, enabling new services and also reducing the gap that high-speed connectivity has created, putting rural areas at an even greater disadvantage in attracting business. The main activities of the project can be summarized as follows:

  • Design a new network architecture with support for Edge technologies in the space segment and the integration of NTN in 3GPP networks.
  • Study reliable and scalable switching approaches for MEC in B5G-NTN.
  • Develop AI/ML-based techniques to build intelligent, self-managed B5G-NTN networks with compute, cache and storage capabilities.
  • Enhance current network management functions in NTN+B5G, including service orchestration in NTN+B5G.
  • Work on the definition of energy efficiency strategies with IA.
  • HAPS (high-altitude pseudo-satellite) structural design for edge computing.
  • HAPS (high altitude pseudo satellite) power management subsystem design for edge computing.

The main objective of the project is to advance knowledge and develop to lead the integration of B5G and NTN. To this end, three main objectives have been identified on which the activity will focus. They can be summarized as follows:

  1. Contribute to the development of an integrated architecture for NTN and B5G networks. Taking 3GPP Release 17 (R17) as a starting point, this research area will focus on understanding how to integrate the NTN segment (satellite and HAPs) to a 3GPP R17 network, including the different possible interactions with the system and developing a reference architecture.
  2. Contribution to the development of key cutting-edge technologies for the space/aircraft segment. The space segment faces many constraints, from tight power budgets or long propagation delays to reliability issues of electronic components. Research in this area will focus on the realization and resolution of the various problems related to performing computations, including AI, at the space node, and how the edge workflows currently present in the cellular network can be adapted to this new segment.
  3. Contribution to the development of key technologies for the integration of HAPs that serve as gNBs. HAPs have the potential to enable rapid deployments to support new services at low cost. These present similar but slightly different issues to satellites and should be studied independently. In this area, the project will focus on adapting HAP technology to carry a 5G gNB, including the design of the 5G capsule. The analysis will include route planning to maximize coverage and air traffic control integration.
Project manager

José Alberto Hernández

University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M)

José Alberto Hernández studied Telecommunication Engineering at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain) between 1996 and 2002, and PhD in Computer Science at Loughborough University (Leics, UK) between 2002 and 2005. Until 2009, he was a postdoctoral researcher and assistant professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, participating in national and European research projects related to performance evaluation in communication networks, WDM optical networks and energy efficiency in communications.

Currently, José Alberto Hernández is Full Professor at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, having published more than 120 scientific articles in prestigious journals and conferences such as IEEE Network, IEEE Communications Magazine, IEEE J. Selected Areas in Communications, IEEE Internet Computing, etc. In addition, he participates in national and European research projects related to WDM optical networks, Metro Ethernet, xPON Networks, Energy Efficiency in communications, Machinel Learning for communications networks and optical transport for 5G.

In 2021, Dr. Hernández obtained the ANECA Accreditation for the Corps of University Professors.

In addition, Dr. Hernandez has published the book: “Probabilistic models for computer networks: tools and solved problems” y está preparando una nueva versión del libro “Una introducción amable a la teoría de colas” (en Español), with Pablo Serrano.



Project management and coordination.


Analysis of new paradigms such as edge computing and programmability in the possible integration of NTNs in 3GPP networks.


Orchestration in NTN+B5G networks.


Research of HAP-based technologies such as Edge at NTN+B5G.