ZTE expects to work with Chinese mobile operators to construct and commercialize 5G ATG networks in China in 2021, according to Liu WeiWei, ZTE’s ATG product manager.
ATG is short for Air-to-ground, which uses mature land mobile communication technologies to provide high speed mobile network for airlines by deploying dedicated ground base stations to cover the sky.
The executive explained that 5G ATG supports high-speed movement of aircraft; provides super-large coverage radius; adopts ground and air co-spectrum to save spectrum resources; supports high peak rate in aircraft and fulfills high security requirement of aviation equipment.
Based on six core technological innovations, the ZTE 5G ATG solution achieves excellent system performance. The maximum airplane speed can reach 1200 km/h. Ultra-high-speed flight will cause serious Doppler frequency offset and affect system performance. By using the unique Doppler frequency offset compensation technology of ZTE, the 5G ATG base stations and airborne equipment pre-compensate for uplink and downlink channels respectively, greatly reducing the impact of frequency offset on access performance, ZTE said.
Also, the intelligent airborne antenna technology can enhance signals and suppress interference, enables the airplane to realize 360-degree all-round network access in air, therefore provides high-quality coverage from low-altitude to high-altitude.
By adopting the ground and air co-spectrum technology, telecom operators can use the spectrum they already have to build ATG networks quickly and efficiently, Liu said.
5G ATG solution also supports Massive MIMO technology, enables each beam tracking one aircraft, ensuring that multiple planes can obtain a maximum download speed of 800Mbps at the same time. The airborne CPE uses the in-house design 7nm chipset with excellent performance and lower power consumption, and can meet the safety certification requirements of civil aviation.
The executive noted that ZTE started the R&D of ATG technology in 2006, has abundant experiences in R&D, ground testing, aviation testing, and deployment and construction of ground base stations and airborne CPEs.
In 2009, ZTE constructed the world’s first and largest 3G ATG network and has now served more than 5000 planes. In October 2020, ZTE worked with China Mobile to complete the world’s first pilot flight of 5G ATG.
Commenting on the main advantages for global airlines and for the aviation industry in general, the executive said that 5G ATG is a low-cost and high-performance IFC data link, which brings the extension of the ground Internet to air Internet, ensures the same experience for users in air as on the ground, makes it a new profit growth point for aviation industry, and also improves the operational efficiency of airlines. 5G ATG can bring aviation industry into the 5G era, and is the basis of big data and AI analysis in the aviation industry.
He said that 5G ATG will create new application scenarios in aviation and empower smart civil aviation. The following aviation services can be provided:
-Cockpit security data transmission: For massive operation data in cockpit, such as flight data, video data inside the cabin, aircraft position and attitude data, aircraft monitoring data, etc. The large-bandwidth and high-security transmission of 5G ground-to-air communications enables the cockpit data of civil aviation to be transmitted in real time with the air administration, and aircraft manufacturers. This greatly improves flight security, and can serve the air administration department and industry customers.
-Internet access in passenger cabin: The 5G ground-to-air communications provide passengers with high-speed and low-latency internet access experiences. Passengers can enjoy network services such as instant messaging, interactive games, and HD video services as on the ground.
In addition, operators can collaborate with airlines and Internet service providers (ISPs) to develop value-added services, such as scenic point promotion, aerial e-commerce, online hotels, and vehicle rental booking. All the requirements during the journey can be met in a timely manner.
Liu also noted that the potential of the Chinese market is huge. “Compared with traditional satellite solutions, the low-cost and high-quality ATG solution will undoubtedly win larger market space.”