Throughput and Capacity Evaluation of 5G New Radio Non-Terrestrial Networks with LEO Satellites

Jonas Sedin, Luca Feltrin, Xingqin Lin

A non-terrestrial network (NTN), a term coined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), refers to a network utilizing airborne or spaceborne payload for communication. The use of NTN has the potential of facilitating providing connectivity to underserved areas. This has motivated the work in 3GPP on evolving the fifth generation (5G) wireless access technology, known as new radio (NR), to support NTN. The broadband opportunities promised by NTN with low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites have attracted much attention, but the performance of LEO NTN using 5G NR has not been well studied. In this paper, we address this gap by analyzing and evaluating the throughput and capacity performance of LEO NTN. The evaluation results show that the downlink capacity of a LEO satellite in S band with 30 MHz bandwidth serving handheld terminal is about 600 Mbps and the downlink capacity of a LEO satellite in Ka band with 400 MHz bandwidth serving very small aperture terminal (VSAT) is about 7 Gbps. For a LEO NTN similar to the Kuiper project proposed by Amazon, we find that, due to the large cell sizes in the LEO NTN, the area capacity density is moderate: 1-10 kbps/km$^2$ in the S band downlink and 14-120 kbps/km$^2$ in the Ka band downlink depending on latitude.

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