SSL Telesat LEO pathfinder (Source: SSL)

Canadian first responders test Telesat LEO

Two municipalities around Ontario, Canada recently tested public safety broadband services over a Telesat low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite connection. Teams from the Halton-Peel Public Safety Broadband Network Innovation Alliance along with Telesat and Motorola solution engineers successfully demonstrated the ability to extend Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN) LTE data services over a satellite link to Telesat’s operations center in Hanover Ontario.

The satellite link was established by using Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite, a small pathfinder launched in January 2018.  LEO satellite links provide the ability to communicate in rural and remote areas outside of traditional terrestrial coverage, as well as provide an alternative communications link in times of need.  Canada’s government has committed over $500 million across 10 years to Telesat for affordable high-speed Internet access.

First responder applications demonstrated over the satellite link included remote vehicle and handheld dispatch, secure messaging, police records access, and push to talk services.  The PSBN, provided by Motorola Solutions, delivers uninterrupted access to mission-critical data applications including GPS, maps, pictures, videos and real-time analytics during emergency situations and day-to-day operations. It also supplements the regions’ mission-critical Project 25 (P25) radio network to provide police, fire and paramedics with access to important data-based information for fast, efficient response in an emergency, according to a PSBN Innovation Alliance press release.

Given Canada’s vast territory, Telesat’s LEO constellation is expected to provide broadband to underserved and unserved communities across the country.  Canada’s PSBN Innovation Alliance is a non-profit organization driving the development of secure, reliable data communications for first responders.

“Our PSBN Innovation Alliance membership is expanding rapidly,” says PSBN Managing Director and Halton Regional Police Service Superintendent Anthony Odoardi. “With membership of more than thirty public and private partnership agencies, including First Responders, critical infrastructure organizations, transit companies, and high tech companies – the PSBN Innovation Alliance continues to shape the governance framework required to successfully operationalize this valuable data spectrum for public safety.”

Telesat expects to launch up to 298 satellites in the first phase of delivering global LEO broadband services, providing fiber-like performance with low latency and gigabit speeds.  The company is expected to select a satellite system prime contractor for its LEO network in mid-2020, responsible for building the satellites and supporting ground systems.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *