Telesat’s LEO 3 demonstration satellite was successfully launched aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket on July 18th. LEO 3 was one of seven satellites in the rideshare mission launched from Mahia, New Zealand.
The LEO 3 satellite, built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), features Ka- and V-band payloads and will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite, which had been in orbit since 2018.
From the beginning, Telesat has taken a deliberate and collaborative approach to introducing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) services. The potential of capabilities and services made possible by LEO has energized the entire space industry. Yet, LEO is still the new kid on the block in many ways.
Customers need to understand how these new LEO services will perform within their networks and across multiple applications. The concept of a LEO capability which is as easy to purchase as any other terrestrial service is an exciting but novel concept.
With a standards-based approach, LEO networks that are certified under the MEF 3.0 Underlay Connectivity Service standards provide seamless integration with telecom networks. Telecom operators can easily understand the capabilities of Telesat Lightspeed and how these software-defined digital services can be procured and integrated into their networks. With such compliance, customers can take advantage of ubiquitous, high capacity and low latency LEO connectivity without the complexities of integrating traditional satellite-based solutions.
Also, there is no accepted “menu” for purchasing LEO services, as there is for GEO. Each LEO operator has designed and built their LEO constellations from scratch, in an architecture that best supports the target markets they wish to serve.
Telesat has designed Telesat Lightspeed as a complete enterprise-class system, where satellites are connected via Optical Inter-Satellite Links (OISLs) to create a mesh network in space. The space network is seamlessly integrated with Landing Stations, user terminals, network operating systems, and customer portals to manage services.
For these reasons, we’ve been conducting testing from the moment the Phase 1 satellite was operational. We’re doing rigorous performance testing with customers and partners to ensure that customers understand how to use the power of LEO to tackle their most complex connectivity challenges. This testing will also support the development of the next-generation of terminals.
Here are some examples:
Anuvu (formerly Global Eagle) was the first maritime and inflight connectivity provider to test its Q09000 antenna tracking capabilities on Telesat‘s Phase 1 Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite. In addition to tracking the LEO satellite with the shortest latency times ever recorded at 19 milliseconds, Anuvu’s terminal also completed satellite transitions between the Phase 1 LEO and the Anik F3 GEO satellite, paving the way to multi-orbit service offerings.
Telesat, Vodafone Group and the University of Surrey successfully conducted the world’s first 5G backhaul tests, demonstrating that Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites can provide effective backhaul transport for mobile network operators (MNOs), including advanced backhaul solutions for 5G.
Test results confirmed a network reaction time (round trip latency) of 18-40 milliseconds, among the lowest ever for a satellite connection. The demonstration supported video chatting, web browsing and simultaneous streaming of up to 8K video. The team also transferred 4K video to the edge of the 5G network, demonstrating a key 5G future use case.
ThinKom Solutions announced the completion of the first live test of a commercially available phased-array antenna with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. ThinKom’s Ka2517 antenna successfully acquired, tracked and maintained seamless end-to-end connectivity with the Telesat LEO satellite.
Full-duplex throughput data rates of up to 370 Mbps on the downlink and 110 Mbps on the uplink were achieved at extremely high spectral efficiencies, all while demonstrating the ultra-low latency capabilities (20-40 msec) of Telesat’s LEO satellite.
Public safety communications in Canada have long faced challenges due to geographic distances. The Halton-Peel Public Safety Broadband Network Innovation Alliance, along with Telesat and Motorola Solutions engineers, successfully enabled the extension of mission critical PSBN LTE data services over a satellite link to Telesat’s operations center in Hanover, Ontario.
Use of LEO satellite links breaks down barriers of providing rural and remote public safety data communications access. The successful test underscores the utility of public safety’s use of Telesat’s planned fleet of LEO satellites around the globe. The testing proves that public safety data and voice services can function in day-to-day use, or in times of need, in rural communities across the country – as well as in the most remote areas of Canada.
Telesat conducted a live testing campaign with the U.S. Navy, the results of which demonstrate that a single antenna aperture can deliver outstanding maritime broadband performance while switching between satellites in different orbits. The testing highlighted how the Navy and other USG customers can access high-capacity broadband from commercial satellites in different orbits with robust links that provide improved security, flexibility and resiliency.
Oil and Gas
Speedcast, a leading communications and IT services provider, completed an oil and gas industry performance testing of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite using data provided by Brazilian state-owned petroleum company, Petrobras. Identified testing data was selected to represent the company’s typical data, voice and video applications.
These tests demonstrated that a LEO satellite can provide an experience equivalent to or better than an office environment, enabling the integration of LEO into a combined solution to meet customers’ needs and provide a reliable, low-latency solution.
Collaboration and Choice
This type of collaboration with industry is the responsible way to establish a new level of satellite services. Some new entrants into the LEO market are attempting to circumvent the existing ecosystem of user terminal manufacturers. These companies vertically integrate their LEO offering – satellite service, antenna, and modem. This reduces customer options and prevents end users from having access to new innovations.
Telesat’s approach is to work through existing service providers and equipment manufacturers. These companies know what their customers want, and one of those things is choice. We will deliver choices to their customers – choices for new, advanced services and choices for how to integrate LEO into their environments.
Continued performance testing with the new LEO 3 satellite will ensure Telesat Lightspeed is the right LEO for enterprises. Testing with equipment manufacturers helps them create cost-effective, next-generation terminals that can track LEO satellites. We will provide Telesat Lightspeed specifications to a wide range of terminal providers, which ultimately gives customers more options and more competitive pricing.