The Critical Link

Doing global good: LEO satellites bring speed & capacity to human welfare initiatives

Humanitarian workers administering health checks with residents

Communication connectivity via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites can deliver transformational change around the world by providing rapid broadband access to support initiatives ranging from fighting climate change and humanitarian efforts to bringing access to education globally and connecting everyone everywhere.

Much of Earth’s surface is rural or remote — including our oceans, seas, mountains, deserts, barren tundra, and more. These challenging environments typically mean there is no access to fibre or affordable, high-speed Internet connectivity. In fact, according to the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU), one-third of the world’s population is not connected.

Telesat Lightspeed provides LEO satellite connectivity to fill these deficiencies and create opportunities for global initiatives.  

Accelerating global data sharing

Telesat Lightspeed satellites operate at an altitude of approximately 1,000 km away from the earth. For comparison, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites are typically positioned between 10,000 km and 20,000 km from the Earth, and Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) satellites sit around 35,000 km from Earth.

In space, distance matters. LEO satellites offer a significant advantage in terms of performance because they are 35x closer to Earth than GEO satellites. This proximity results in approximately 20x lower latency, delivering high capacity, fibre-like connectivity. For example, Telesat Lightspeed will deliver high-broadband density — up to 7.5 Gbps to a single user terminal and up to 15 Gbps to a single community.

Another advantage for remote locations, Telesat Lightspeed LEO satellites fly in both polar and inclined orbits, which optimizes global connectivity coverage and capacity distribution. GEO and MEO satellites cannot offer true global connectivity; maritime and aviation routes that traverse Polar regions and far northern communities cannot be served by legacy satellite systems.  

These capabilities make the Telesat Lightspeed satellite constellation an ideal fit for remote connectivity. It also creates opportunities for Canada, as well as the rest of the world, to more effectively connect to do global good.

Global initiatives for good

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for connectivity. A recent study by the University of Chicago found that individuals who lacked Internet access have been at a higher risk of death from Covid-19; they have suffered from insufficient awareness of the virus, its symptoms, and the need for treatment. A lack of digital infrastructure in rural areas prohibits the sharing of critical health information. LEO satellites can help solve this issue, providing broad coverage and connectivity for difficult-to-reach locations.

Telesat Lightspeed can also transform rural communications by connecting remote areas to urban Internet fibre backbones. The IEEE, a technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity, has recently said LEO satellites are ideal for enabling access equality. Underserved communities can quickly, flexibly, and cost-effectively gain access to data by avoiding the long lead times associated with fibre or microwave technology deployments.

The same is true for humanitarian aid efforts. Nonprofit organizations and missions working in remote areas or conflict zones need reliable access to data. For example, in the event of a natural disaster that damages terrestrial infrastructure, LEO satellites can immediately establish communications links to support response efforts.  

Learn more about how Telesat Lightspeed provides ubiquitous Internet access.

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