SSL Telesat LEO pathfinder (Source: SSL)

Telesat discusses scaling up broadband constellation to 512 satellites

While Canada-based Telesat has approval to build a117 satellite network from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the company recently aired plans to go up to a total of 512 spacecraft.

Space News reports Telesat Vice President Erwin Hudson says its business plan is built around 292 satellites and is designed to scale upward to 512 once the company gets fully underway.  There are natural “break points” at 112, 192, 292 and 512 satellites in orbit, with initial service targeted for 112.

In order to put more satellites (and capacity) in orbit, Telesat would have to go to the FCC and get an amendment to its existing license to add more. Going to 292 satellites would provide five to six terabits per second of global usable capacity delivering bits to customers.

Currently, Telesat sees what Space News said is “strong demand” for LEO broadband in aviation, maritime, and cellular data backhaul, markets also described on the company’s website.  Providing direct-to-consumer services is not in Telesat’s current business plan due to the high cost of electronically steerable antennas today. Telesat will revisit the consumer broadband market as antenna prices come down.

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.

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