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The Critical Link

NSR’s take on Satellite 2023 – and our take

Image of Telesat booth at SATELLITE show

The team at Northern Sky Research shared some takeaways from Satellite 2023 in a recent Satellite Today article. Some of the points they raised included making space simpler, wide availability of antennas, how operators should approach verticalization and national security as a market opportunity. These are excellent observations, and we expand on them below.

Flat Panels Everywhere

NSR reported that they saw more and more flat panel antennas moving beyond engineering mockups to production reality. They feel the next 1-2 years will be critical as flat panels move into the mainstream.

Beyond just flat panels, Telesat’s approach is to make the technical specifications for antennas, whether flat panel Electronically steered (ESA) or single/dual parabolic antennas, compatible with Telesat Lightspeed freely available to industry. This is the best way to ensure choice for the end customer, be it in aviation, maritime or fixed operator or enterprise backhaul. Telesat will offer a wide range of enterprise-class user terminal solutions for various uses cases, from small form factor single aperture to large dual parabolic antennas, enabling throughput from 1 Mbps to multiple Gbps connectivity to a single site.

Highly reliable and future-proof, Telesat Lightspeed user terminal solutions are carrier-grade for high-throughput, low-latency applications, and seamless integration into customer networks.

User terminal solutions for aviation include electronically steered antenna (ESA) terminals in three form factors along with a hybrid terminal option. For enterprise, telecom, and mobility use cases, several sizes of flat panel ESA and radome-enclosed mechanically steered dual parabolic antenna terminals will be available as well upgrade kits for certain maritime antennas.

How Low in Value Chain?

NSR talks about a trend towards verticalization by satellite operators, as they look to control more elements of the value chain, such as manufacture, ground terminals and service provision. This is not the approach Telesat is pursuing for Telesat Lightspeed. We work with service providers, not against them.

The Telesat Lightspeed architecture provides unprecedented performance and flexibility for service providers. Telesat Lightspeed was designed to be steerable fibre in the sky, ready to fill the gap wherever terrestrial fibre is not cost-effective or feasible. This highly flexible and scalable LEO backhaul network connects remote communities, offices, factories, data centers, 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.

Telesat expects to work collaboratively with regional satellite operators for hybrid GEO/LEO services as well. Telesat Lightspeed can deliver on the mission critical needs of operator partners, including improved and flexible geographic coverage, faster satellite data rates, reduced signal latency, and overall best economic value and user experience. Operators can leverage our technology to expand their service offerings without the cost of building out a global LEO network.

This kind of collaboration is our heritage at Telesat and how we’ve always done business. Telesat Lightspeed can provide reliable, backhaul with committed service level agreements to power hybrid networks with local operators delivering services to the end customer.

National Defense as Critical Market

NSR highlights that as LEO programs are announced in Europe and China – meeting the requirements of national security customers will be critical to success. We could not agree more. In today’s geopolitical climate, such connectivity has never been more vital for national security.

Leveraging more than 50 years of providing resilient connectivity solutions for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Telesat designed the Telesat Lightspeed network with an advanced system architecture and cybersecurity measures to enable ubiquitous, high-throughput, low-latency broadband connectivity for defence missions in Canada, the Arctic, and across the globe.

In addition, Telesat Lightspeed will assist global NATO ally defence efforts. For example, our LEO satellites can securely and privately route communications data to the relevant defence organizations and bypass foreign terrestrial infrastructure for faster insights and decision making. It’s also possible to use Telesat Lightspeed satellite connectivity for humanitarian efforts in conflict zones.

As the Department of National Defence prioritizes NORAD modernization, growing its NATO contribution, and ensuring Canada’s women and men in uniform have access to the most capable technologies, Canada can leverage the substantial commercial innovations and investments in Telesat Lightspeed to bolster its national defence capabilities.

Telesat is also working on multiple contracts and projects with U.S. government customers. Telesat is proving the efficacy of optical inter-satellite links (OISLs) as part of the SDA’s Transport Layer Network, working with DARPA on their Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN), and with NASA on their Communications Services Project (CSP).

Make Space Simpler

NSR talks about how space is moving into the communications industry mainstream, and the market winners will be companies who make space simple for the end user.

The commercialization of LEO technologies is moving space from an important but segregated niche market to the mainstream. The global space industry, estimated at about US$350 billion today, is expected to grow nearly six-fold to over US$2 trillion in the coming decades. Likewise, the satellite connectivity market is also growing exponentially; today the total addressable market, or TAM for our geostationary business will reach approximately US$18 billion by 2025, and the estimated TAM for LEO is approximately US$430 billion in 2025.

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.

As NSR intimated, the integration of space-based connectivity with terrestrial networks had been a challenge for industry. Telesat Lightspeed solves this challenge by meeting MEF 3.0 standards for carrier Ethernet connectivity. This means that it’s as easy for enterprise end 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.  

NSR also talked about how strong the attendance was this year at Satellite 2023. Long-time players mixed with newcomers looking to identify opportunities in a market transformed by new technology. Whether or not you agree with every point NSR makes about the show, the next few years in space will be truly transformative.

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