Telesat to build a $5 billion global satellite network to bring fiber-like internet to businesses

A rendering of Telesat’s low earth orbit broadband constellation


Canadian telecommunications satellite operator Telesat introduced on Tuesday that French-Italian area {hardware} producer Thales Alenia Space will build its next-generation broadband satellite network known as Lightspeed.

Lightspeed will give attention to offering high-speed fiber-like internet to Telesat’s prospects across the globe. The network, identified within the trade as a constellation, will include 298 next-generation satellites that orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 1000 kilometers, or a little over twice the altitude of the International Space Station.

“We’re not a start-up. This isn’t a new business activity for us. It’s the same old customers and same old markets, but with an architecture that is better and more disruptive,” Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg informed CNBC. 

The firm largely focuses on business-to-business prospects and expects its Lightspeed constellation will value $5 billion build, together with the price of the satellites, shopping for rocket launches, constructing floor infrastructure and creating software program platforms to function the network. The value of the satellites make up the majority of that whole, as Goldberg mentioned the contract with Thales Alenia Space is price about $3 billion.

Notably, Goldberg clarified that Telesat’s Lightspeed constellation is just not designed to compete with the direct-to-consumer networks of SpaceX’s Starlink or Amazon’s Kuiper.

“This is not a consumer broadband play,” Goldberg mentioned. “We’re one of the largest satellite operators in the world today and we’ve been doing this for 50 years now. But we’ve always been an enterprise kind of service provider … we know that customer base, we know those markets. We collaborated with those customers when we conceived of this opportunity and designed this constellation.”

The firm’s headquarters.


Goldberg defined that Telesat’s Lightspeed prospects embrace cruise ships, airways, and rural municipalities. The network’s anchor buyer would be the Canadian authorities, Goldberg famous, which signed on to use Lightspeed to “set up a pool of capacity that will get sold at very attractive rates to municipalities and and really rural broadband providers.”

“It’s orders of magnitude better than what exists today and even what a lot of folks are planning,” Goldberg mentioned. “This is all about delivering a low cost per bit to the market.”

Telesat plans to start launching the primary Lightspeed in 2023, with preliminary satellites launched by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin on its New Glenn rocket. Goldberg mentioned he is been monitoring New Glenn’s improvement “closely,” because the rocket’s inaugural launch is deliberate within the subsequent yr, however he is assured that “it will be ready” when Telesat begins launching in two years. Telesat may also “be announcing other launch providers in the coming months.”

Telesat has chosen our highly effective New Glenn rocket to launch Telesat’s progressive LEO satellite constellation into area.


One of the important thing applied sciences that Goldberg mentioned the Lightspeed satellites will leverage is intersatellite hyperlinks — which permit satellites to create knowledge connections to one another, moderately than individually connecting to factors on the bottom.

“We’re basically deploying a big space-based mesh IP network, which means all of our satellites are always online and being able to be revenue-generating and connected to a user,” Goldberg mentioned.

Intersatellite hyperlinks are key to lowering the variety of factors on the bottom that the satellite constellation wants to join to, in addition to enhance the general velocity of the global network. Goldberg mentioned that Telesat plans to deploy about 30 floor stations around the globe, “because we don’t need that many” and it helps “minimize capital investment and spending on the ground.”

Telesat has additionally been working to lower the reflectivity of its Lightspeed satellites, after SpaceX’s Starlink was hit by a public outcry by astronomers that it is lots of of satellites appeared  as vibrant streaks throughout photographs taken by telescopes. Goldberg famous that the Lightspeed satellites will likely be at about twice the altitude the Starlink satellites, whereas additionally having a fraction as many within the whole constellation. Telesat’s Lightspeed satellites are additionally designed to final about 10 to 12 years every, so the corporate would not have to change them too ceaselessly.

“We’ve been using space for 50 years — we’re a responsible industrial user of space. We’ve been very deliberate about making sure it doesn’t have these kind of negative externalities,” Goldberg mentioned.

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