Telespazio UK through recently acquired company, e2E, wins UniCore contract with ESA

12 May 2024

Telespazio UK, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a joint venture between Leonardo, 67%, and Thales, 33%) is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the UniCore contract through e2E group. The contract, awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA), is to deliver a reference User Equipment (UE) for 5G satellite-terrestrial communications as part of the UniCore project.

The Telespazio UK team leads the consortium that will deliver on this activity which is part of ESA’s Space for 5G/6G and Sustainable Connectivity Strategic Programme Line 2023 workplan. The aim of the activity is to develop a prototype 5G New Radio (NR) reference UE capable of supporting both Terrestrial Networks (TN) and Non-terrestrial Networks (NTN). Aligned with its specialism in developing next generation satellite communication nodes, Telespazio UK is leading the technical requirements, specification, implementation, test and validation of the reference UE, including architecture, interfaces and design. A survey of the state-of-the-art of existing and planned IP Cores applicable to 5G UE has recently concluded.

UniCore will utilise project-partner Viavi’s existing 5G NTN software stack to facilitate the development of a solution in a timeframe that is acceptable within the fast-moving NR UE industry. This is intended to allow UE manufacturers to accelerate the timescales of their related developments by assessing and potentially incorporating the solution into their overall 5G UE development and test programmes. The project will also explore performance and portability of the protocol stack.

The consortium also includes a team from the Satellite Applications Catapult who will bring expert knowledge of 5G NTN applications and use cases to define scenarios for the project. The project will utilise Catapult’s facility at its Future Network facility in Westcott, that is equipped with key technologies for integrated terrestrial/non-terrestrial 5G and beyond. This facility provides a platform for collaboration between academia, industry, government, and leading satellite operators to advance the capabilities of future integrated networks.

Telespazio UK, one of Europe’s leading players in space operations, ground systems, Geo Information services and resilient navigation & timing applications, is integrating e2E’s satellite communications business and related communications engineering capabilities to become a major delivery partner on national military and civil programmes.

Trevor Beard, Telespazio UK’s Head of R&D, said: “We are delighted to be working with ESA on such a forward-looking satcom project. Telespazio considers that convergence of cellular standards with satcom will be a driver for growth of the sector and has been investing to develop 5G NTN capabilities and technology. This project will further drive our developments for core radio protocols, reflecting our strategic priorities at Telespazio UK.”

Nader Alagha, the ESA Technical Officer for this activity, said: “We are looking forward to working with e2E, now Telespazio UK, and their partners on this timely project to develop reference UEs for 5G satellite-terrestrial connectivity.”

Stephen Hire, VP Wireless Marketing, at VIAVI, said: “VIAVI is excited to be working on this important ESA project to enable 5G NTN terminal development. The project will utilise VIAVI’s gold standard TM500 5G Mobile terminal simulator including NTN capability, as well as leveraging VIAVI’s 5G platform stack technology and expertise.”

Ashweeni Beeharee, Head of Ubiquitous Connectivity at Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “The ESA UniCore project is an important step towards more reliable and wide-reaching connectivity solutions that will utilise the strengths of both terrestrial and non-terrestrial (satellite) enabled networks. This project sits well with our Future Network Intervention, and we are providing our expertise on 5G/6G NTN applications and access to our world-class resources, including the Future Network Development Centre (FNDC) lab. We are confident that with e2E’s leadership and the contributions from the other consortium members, the UniCore project will accelerate the delivery of the next generation of integrated NTN telecommunications solutions.”