Sophia Antipolis, 15 April 2024

This year’s first ETSI Conference on Non-Terrestrial Networks has stressed the importance of technical standardization in delivering a fully connected planet via NTN, a key element of tomorrow’s global 6G networks.

Held from 3-4 April 2024 at ETSI’s Sophia Antipolis headquarters, the event was co-organized with the European Space Agency (ESA), the 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA) and the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU).

Titled ‘Non-Terrestrial Networks, a Native Component of 6G’, the 2-day conference attracted over 200 participants from 25 countries, including experts in standardization and research as well as industrial representation from the mobile, satellite and wider space industries. Delegates shared perspectives on NTN use cases, candidate technology solutions, current research status and standardization roadmaps. Day one sessions focused on the opportunities and challenges of integrating terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks within tomorrow’s global communications landscape. The second day afforded a deep dive into numerous cutting-edge NTN and 6G research & development initiatives in Europe and around the world.

Non-Terrestrial Networks are wireless communication platforms operating above the surface of the Earth, typically achieved using satellites in low, medium or geostationary orbit as well as drones, High Altitude Platforms (HAPS) and other aerial systems. A component of 5G since 3GPP Release 17, NTN offers truly seamless global coverage to support a wide range of communication applications that demand high availability and resilience.

NTN will also be a crucial element of tomorrow’s 6G communication ecosystem. Currently the subject of early pre-standardization discussions in 3GPP, 6G will feature native integration of NTN from the outset, allowing optimization of service delivery via both terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks in 6G. 6G NTN is also anticipated to provide increased performance and service capabilities compared to NTN in 5G.

NTN is already well recognized as a pivotal part of the 6G story, with its development supported by significant long-term investments by Europe’s R&D communities” states Luis Jorge Romero, ETSI Director General. “The successful realization of NTN depends on effective collaboration between terrestrial and non-terrestrial communities, supported by dialogue between industry, standardization groups and research/academia. The key enablers for NTN’s success in 6G include a flexible regulatory and licensing environment that provides timely access to sufficient globally harmonized spectrum – all underpinned by robust technology standards that support smooth integration of cost-effective, reliable and interoperable NTN and TN solutions within the timeframe for 6G as envisaged by 3GPP.”

 Quotes from co-organizing partners:

Antonio Franchi, Head of 5G/6G NTN Programme Office, ESA

The satellite community’s proactive engagement in 3GPP has already led to the inclusion of NTN since Release 17, driving the active endorsement of NTN by terrestrial stakeholders and a wide range of verticals. From this baseline, industry must now focus on the development of flexible, resilient technology solutions that are cost-effective, secure, providing global coverage, freely scalable and energy efficient, by extending the presence of NTN in 3GPP, including all satellite frequency bands, broadband and narrowband services, with transparent and regenerative satellite payloads.”

Javier Albares Bueno, Head of 5G/6G Program at the Smart Network and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS-JU) of the European Commission

What’s particularly exciting is the vast array of future NTN use cases and applications that are yet to be discovered. As we pave the way to an even more connected and resilient future, it’s essential that significant investment in innovation is channeled into tangible objectives – including standards, infrastructure deployments and timely commercialization of NTN services.”

Dr Colin Willcock, Chairman of the Board, 6G-IA

Multiple research and innovation projects are working on the technologies that will eventually shape 6G standards, with NTN as a native component. Europe must consolidate its NTN leadership position with an open and collaborative R&D approach, bringing together industry and academic work leveraged through standardization. 6G-IA is committed to this objective.”

Conference presentations can be accessed here.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organization, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia are Associate Members.
ESA has established formal cooperation with four Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.  Learn more about ESA at

About SNS JU

The European Smart Networks and Services JU (SNS JU) is a Joint Undertaking established in 2021 by the European Union Council Regulation No 2021/2085. This EU Partnership is jointly led by the EU Commission and the 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA). The mix of public and industry interest makes the Smart Network and Services Joint Undertaking the right platform for collaboration and the right instrument to foster world-class research and innovation on next generation networks and services. The SNS JU fosters alignment and synergies with Member States on 6G Research and Innovation Programmes and favours international cooperation towards setting a 6G global standard.  For more information about the SNS JU, please visit

About 6G-IA

The 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA) is the voice of European Industry and Research for next generation networks and services. Its primary objective is to contribute to Europe’s leadership on 5G, 5G evolution and SNS/6G research. The 6G-IA represents the private side in both the 5G Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP) and the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU). In the 5G-PPP and SNS JU, the European Commission represents the public side. The 6G-IA brings together a global industry community of telecoms & digital actors such as operators, manufacturers, research institutes, universities, verticals, SMEs and ICT associations. The 6G-IA carries out a wide range of activities in strategic areas including standardization, frequency spectrum, R&D projects, technology skills, collaboration with key vertical industry sectors, notably for the development of trials, and international cooperation. For more information, please visit the website

About ETSI

ETSI provides members with an open and inclusive environment to support the development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services across all sectors of industry and society.  We are a non-profit body, with more than 900 member organizations worldwide, drawn from 64 countries and five continents. The members comprise a diversified pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government, and public organizations. ETSI is officially recognized by the EU as a European Standards Organization (ESO). For more information, please visit us at