It increasingly is clear that 5G and low earth satellite technologies are intimately related, as are core networks based on network functions virtualization and access-agnostic edge networks, fixed and mobile networks generally.

As a new paper by Samsung Electronics suggests, mobile 5G and LEOs might both take advantage of millimeter wave frequencies, with the LEOS serving as backhaul for mobile transmitters or direct enterprise backhaul links.

If a unified millimeter wave set of networks (satellite, mobile, Wi-Fi) can be created, small cell networks would be essential. But that might be easier than at present, since Wi-Fi nodes directly served by LEO constellations would be possible.

Think of the present village kiosk, served by a geostationary satellite and then distributing signal using Wi-Fi, and you’ll get the concept.

If, in fact, bandwidth increases by an order of magnitude (10 times) about every five years, LEO constellations might be among the few viable backhaul mechanisms able to supply that amount of new capacity, at low cost, in developing regions.