The Critical Link

Defining enterprise-class LEO

Artist rendering of Telesat Lightspeed satellite in space over a data streaming background

The advent of new Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations is revolutionizing global connectivity and ushering in an exciting time of change in the space industry. The high-throughput, low-latency capabilities of LEO networks have generated great interest from enterprises and telecom service providers looking to move beyond traditional backhaul technologies.

Not all of the new LEO platforms are designed the same, however. Some LEO systems were designed around business-to-consumer services. Telesat Lightspeed is the first enterprise-class LEO network, a truly global service designed for communications service providers seeking a superior choice for connecting rural and hard-to-reach areas.

Enterprise-class LEO delivers the following capabilities:

Virtual Fibre/Layer 2 Ethernet in the Sky

Telesat Lightspeed was designed as the best non-terrestrial solution when deploying fibre is not cost-effective or feasible. Simply put, enterprise-class means delivering high throughput data links with guaranteed performance, including service availability and low latency, that is on par with terrestrial fibre. Services will be delivered with guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs), rather than best-effort. This highly flexible and scalable LEO backhaul network connects remote communities, airplanes and ships to the core telecom network and puts service providers in control of where, when, and how they serve their customers. And it ensures that enterprise and telecom service providers can provide their customers with a city-like broadband experience, no matter how rural or remote their location.

The global, mesh network in space is possible due to next-generation technology such as software-defined networking and optical inter-satellite links (OISLs) that connect each satellite. Telesat Lightspeed LEO satellites are larger than other LEO satellites to accommodate next-generation technologies and are 35 times closer to Earth than GEO satellites, resulting in low latency connectivity.

Powerful onboard processing and the OISLs provide more options and flexibility in routing data to its final destination. Using fewer, more powerful satellites than other LEO operators also reinforces resiliency, since more than one satellite is always in view of every customer antenna. All of these features are why Telesat Lightspeed can guarantee 99.9 percent availability, which is essential for an enterprise-class LEO network.

Enterprise-class LEO platforms allow communications services providers to offer solutions to customers without owning the underlying infrastructure, creating a virtual network operator (VNO) model in space. Enterprise service providers can configure their network on-the-fly as needed and offer things like real-time throughput adjustments, prioritization of traffic or end-user contention as their business demands.

Enterprise-grade Security

Network security is a question many potential customers have about legacy LEO constellations. Telesat has adopted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework and expects to meet the government standards for Transmission security (TRANSEC) and the Infrastructure Asset Pre-Assessment Program (IA-PRE).

Telesat Lightspeed has sophisticated, enterprise-class LEO protection elements built-in, such as:

  • Jam resistance: Telesat Lightspeed is hardened against jamming attempts because an interferer needs to have multiple capabilities simultaneously – a tracking jamming antenna to follow Telesat Lightspeed LEO satellites, to obtain perishable data on specific (narrow) beam usage, and to use specific satellite orbital position data.
  • Low probability of intercept: Telesat employs isolated, small, rapidly hopping spot beams with multi-satellite access and time-domain access, coupled with the inherent motion of the LEO satellites all significantly increase the complexity of intercepting a signal.

True Hybrid Network Integration

Enterprise-class LEO networks make it possible for non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) to be fully integrated into terrestrial networks. This makes the creation of hybrid terrestrial/non-terrestrial 5G mobile infrastructures possible, dramatically elevating throughput and reliability for enterprises and consumers alike.

The integration of space-based connectivity with terrestrial networks had been a challenge for the industry. Telesat Lightspeed solves this challenge by meeting MEF (previously Metro Ethernet Forum) standards for carrier Ethernet connectivity. This means that it’s as easy for enterprise customers to plug into Telesat Lightspeed transport as it would be using any terrestrial carrier. And service providers can land traffic in-country or in-region, enabling sovereign control of their data.  

That’s what enterprise-class LEO means to us at Telesat. It will be the fruition of a long-held dream – eliminating geography as a barrier to reliable broadband connectivity and applications, anywhere on Earth.

Learn more about Telesat’s Enterprise-class LEO smart platform.

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