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ETHER aims to provide a holistic approach for integrated terrestrial-non-terrestrial networks targeting at 100% network coverage, 99.99999% service continuity and 99.99999% reliability, with 3 times higher energy efficiency and 95% Total Cost of Ownership reduction compared to current terrestrial only deployments. To achieve these goals, ETHER develops solutions for a Unified Radio Access Network (RAN) and for the energy-efficient, AI-enabled resource management across the terrestrial, aerial and space domains, while creating the business plans driving future investments in the area. To that end, ETHER introduces and combines a series of key technologies under a unique 3D multi-layered architectural proposition that brings together: i) a UE antenna design and implementation for direct handheld access in the integrated network, ii) a robust unified waveform, iii) energy-efficient seamless horizontal and vertical handover policies, iv) a zero-touch management and network orchestrator to self-adapt to rapidly evolving traffic conditions without human intervention, v) a flexible payload system to enable programmability in the aerial and space layers, vi) joint communication, compute and storage resource allocation solutions targeting at End-to-End network performance optimisation leveraging efficient and novel predictive analytics schemes, and vii) energy-efficient semantics-aware information handling techniques combined with edge computing and caching for reduced latency across the distributed 3D compute and storage continuum.

NCSRD will lead WP3: Key Technological Enablers for the seamless and autonomous ETHER Network Operation, as well as Task 3.1: Channel modeling, UE Antenna Design, Distributed Beamforming from LEO swarms and Unified Waveform Design of the Unified and Sustainable RAN. NCSRD will mainly work on link budget analysis for the direct access of handheld terminal to LEO satellites, propose efficient antenna designs for the terminal and showcase the realistic performance of such an antenna by conducting characterization measurements in anechoic chamber.

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