LeoSat – more precisely, “LeoSat Enterprises” of late – announced today, September 11, it has secured pre-launch agreements valued over a billion dollars. It’s a significant milestone of sorts for a company that isn’t launching the first satellites until 2020.
“We believe that LeoSat can truly fuel worldwide economic growth by offering our customers the fastest, most reliable and secure global infrastructure for data communications. These commercial agreements valued at over US$1Billion clearly demonstrate LeoSat’s progression from a new networking concept to a unique solution which not only resonates with our customers but has also attracted the firm backing of two leading satellite companies – SKY Perfect JSAT and Hispasat”, said Mark Rigolle, CEO of LeoSat.
The pre-launch agreements span a wide range of data and mobility sectors, according to a company press release, including enterprise, telecoms, government, and finance. It expects to expand not only the existing satellite services market through its high-speed, low-latency services, but open new markets for data networking across the globe.
LeoSat says it is “pairing the speed of fiber” with the “ubiquity of satellite and adding a new dimension of ultra-security.” The company claims its constellation of up to 108 low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites cross-linked via laser will be around 1.5 times faster than terrestrial fiber, with RF downlinks in the Ka-band capable of providing synchronous speeds of up 5.2 Gbps. The architecture is relatively unique, providing on-network, end-to-end connections between different points on the Earth’s surface without having to shuffle between local satellite teleport “gateways” in individual countries.
Unlike OneWeb and SpaceX, LeoSat has left no doubt it wants to deal with enterprise customers and enterprise customers only when it comes to building and operating a LEO broadband constellation. It’s a strategy Telesat appears to be favoring in its initial rollout, given the high-cost of flat-panel electronically steered antennas necessary to establish and maintain a data connection with multiple satellites rapidly moving in and out of range across the sky.
Securing orders for over a billion dollars gives LeoSat and its backers assurances that there is a viable market for its services, as well as providing a tool for securing more financing through various instruments. In July, LeoSat announced Hispasat is its second strategic partner, providing funding and distribution. Sky Perfect JSAT was LeoSat’s first strategic partner.
The estimate to build and launch the LeoSat constellation is $3.6 billion. LeoSat doesn’t plan to launch pathfinder demonstration satellites next year (and needs to update the documents on its website to reflect that), according to press reports and will instead start launching satellites as early as 2020 or 2021. Thales Alenia Space will build the satellites, while announcements as to who will put the 108 satellites into orbit has yet to be made.