Integration of 5G in Modern SATCOM Systems and how to Mitigate Interference

January 19, 2024 Rachel Edwards

Satellite communications (SATCOM) have emerged as a linchpin in modern military operations. They provide unmatched connectivity and strategic advantages on a 21st century battlefield ever more reliant on information gathering, electronic warfare (EW), and advanced communications. Secure and uninterrupted satellite communications – especially in light of the integration of 5G – requires constant interference mitigation using advanced spectrum analyzers and spectrum monitoring solutions.

SATCOM in Modern Warfare

SATCOM (figure 1) is a cornerstone for modern military operations because it has an array of capabilities that are indispensable for achieving success across a diverse range of missions on a global scale. These capabilities go far beyond data transmission. Modern SATCOM has a suite of functions to aid military forces operating with heightened efficiency, coordination, and situational awareness.

Military satellites are evolving to address the 21st-century battlefield trends. Historically, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has used Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites. The U.S. Space Force, though, is now deploying a constellation of smaller, less expensive Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. The transition to these satellites is partly being done to make it more difficult for adversaries to disrupt communications.

Figure 1: SATCOM is becoming an essential piece of modern military operations.

Satellite communications offer a real-time and secure means of transmitting vast information critical to the success of military operations. These transmissions range from voice communications, video feeds, sensor data, geographic information systems (GIS) data, weather updates, and targeting data, to name a few.  SATCOM’s ability to relay such vital information across tremendous distances and in challenging environments allows military forces to remain interconnected and informed, even in the most remote or hostile locations.

5G Impact on SATCOM

Another critical change in SATCOM is the integration of 5G technology, which brings revolutionary enhancements to military communications. Combining the broad transmission capability of satellites with the speed and bandwidth benefits of 5G creates hybrid networks that deliver enhanced connectivity in any environment.  

5G SATCOM systems will have faster data transmission rates, lower latency, and expanded network capacity. With such enhanced capabilities, the military will be able to optimally utilize high-definition video streaming, augmented reality applications, and IoT on the battlefield. SATCOM integrated with 5G creates multiple benefits in all forms of communications, including continuous, multi-network, ubiquitous, and tactical.

To reap the benefits of 5G, however, SATCOM system requirements must be carefully considered, especially for critical military operations. Interference mitigation is at the top of the list.

Interference challenges, whether unintentional or nefarious in nature, are becoming a significant issue for satellite communications. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) can disrupt or degrade the signal quality between satellites and ground stations. These interference types can stem from natural sources and human activities, and they pose significant issues for maintaining reliable and efficient SATCOM links. Critical interference causes that must be overcome are shown in Table 1.

Adjacent satellite interference

Atmospheric conditions (rain, snow, fog, atmospheric absorption)

Coordination with terrestrial systems

Cross-polarization interference

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)

Frequency coordination


Physical blockage (buildings, trees, mountains, and other obstacles on the ground)

Radio frequency interference (RFI)

Solar interference

Table 1: Common causes of interference in SATCOM systems.

Approaches to Mitigate Interference

Spectrum analyzers and monitoring solutions are necessary to meet these challenges and mitigate interference in SATCOM. These advanced tools systematically identify, analyze, and help resolve interference issues.

Anritsu is recognized as a leading provider of communication testing equipment, including handheld spectrum analyzers (figure 1) and remote spectrum monitoring solutions, which have proven to be valuable assets in identifying and addressing RFI challenges. They can identify interference, characterize signals, locate the source of interference, conduct frequency adjustments, and perform other valuable analyses.

Figure 2: Anritsu handheld spectrum analyzers are a valuable tool to mitigate interference in SATCOM systems.

The proper spectrum analyzers and monitoring equipment, such as Anritsu solutions, provide a robust toolkit to effectively identify, analyze, and mitigate RF interference in SATCOM. Combined with a comprehensive understanding of spectrum management principles, these instruments help ensure the reliability and integrity of SATCOM systems. Table 2 highlights some of the capabilities provided by Anritsu’s solutions.

Analyzing Spectrum Patterns

Documentation and Reporting

Frequency Adjustments

Identifying Interference

Locating the Interfering Source

Monitoring and Surveillance

Narrowing the Source

Ongoing Spectrum Management

Signal Characterization

Table 2: Spectrum analyzer and spectrum monitoring solutions offered by Anritsu are designed with comprehensive features.

To learn more about emerging SATCOM systems, the impact of 5G, and interference mitigation tips, download our new application note.

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