Credit: SES

The University of Luxembourg and SES have launched a six-year research partnership aimed at advancing the development of next-generation satellite-terrestrial networks.

The Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) has agreed to support this extensive new research project to advance data networks, led by the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) in collaboration with SES. 

Titled INSTRUCT (INtegrated Satellite-TeRrestrial Systems for Ubiquitous Beyond 5G CommunicaTions), the research initiative is funded by the FNR’s Industrial Partnership Block Grant (IPBG) programme - its most extensive funding mechanism for collaborative industrial research in Luxembourg. The IPBG scheme is aimed at supporting innovation through collaborations between industry and academics and building an ecosystem of skilled expertise.

For the INSTRUCT project, SnT will support SES, the leader in global content connectivity solutions, to conduct research in next-generation integrated satellite-terrestrial networks, leveraging what has already been achieved in the 5G area and advancing it further. The project builds on a successful ten-year relationship between SnT and SES that has resulted in several advanced technology solutions in areas such as digital signal modulation, dynamic beamforming, high throughput modem technologies, complex software systems modelling and natural language processing. The IPBG award will fund seventeen SnT research projects, which will each have a team of a PhD or PostDoc student, an academic supervisor from SnT and an industrial supervisor from SES. 

The integration of satellite and terrestrial systems is considered crucial as truly global next-generation networks require an ecosystem of multiple communication infrastructures to be inclusive, ubiquitous and affordable. Satellite proved to be an ideal enabler of the next-generation networks thanks to its wide coverage, ability to deliver to moving platforms and simultaneity. 

“We launched the IPBG programme as a pilot project in 2016 and it is quickly becoming an essential mechanism to funnel research funding towards complex industrial challenges,” commented Andreea Monnat, Deputy Secretary General of the FNR. “It is a priority of Luxembourg to establish an economy that is focused on innovation, and the longstanding partnership between SES and SnT is an excellent example of the positive results of such collaborations”.

Ruy Pinto, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of SES, added: “Our business relies on the technology we use, and we are embracing innovations that support current markets and unlock new opportunities for the customers we serve. With its outstanding R&D capabilities, SnT is a reliable partner in advancing innovation with a truly global impact and we are happy to continue working with them. With the backing of the FNR and SnT, we are sure we will be able to further advance on integrated satellite-terrestrial networks”.

Prof Symeon Chatzinotas, Project Principal Investigator at SnT, also stated: “The integration of satellite and terrestrial networks is a complex research challenge as we enter the beyond 5G era. This FNR grant gives us the support to build a Centre of Excellence in Luxembourg and spearhead research and technology transfer in this area".