Telesat Lightspeed landing station render (Source Telesat)

Telesat Selects Ciena Hardware for Lightspeed Terrestrial Segment

Satellite operator Telesat announced it is using routing and switching hardware from Ciena for the ground portion of its low Earth orbit (LEO) Lightspeed broadband network. Ciena gear is being used to “ensure… Telesat has a modern, cost-effective network,” according to the company press release, enabling it to take advantage of “emerging technologies” including network function virtualization (NFV) and edge computing to support existing and future customer requirements.

“As the leading provider of aggregated, global Tier 1 carrier connectivity, Ciena’s field-proven routing and switching technology will ensure flexible, reliable connectivity between our Earth station antennas and Points of Presence throughout the world,” said Aneesh Dalvi, Director, Landing Stations and User Terminals, Telesat. “The seamless integration of on-ground data networks with our advanced Telesat Lightspeed satellites will ensure unmatched speed and performance for our global enterprise and government customers.”

Telesat’s Lightspeed LEO network will start out at 298 satellites, with the lower orbit providing lower latency on par with terrestrial fiber services while providing access to the world’s “most rural and remote locations.”  Ciena is providing both hardware and software for provisioning high-speed high-capacity connections for a laundry list of customers including governments, telcos, mobile operators, and other enterprise customers for the delivery of 5G, cloud computing, video, and other bandwidth-intensive broadband services.

Ciena is providing its 3926 and 5170 hardware to provide MEF-compliant services at its points of presence (PoPs), as well as terrestrial connectivity to as many as 50 Earth-based landing stations around the world. The Ciena platforms include advanced quality of service (QoS) mechanisms, including hierarchical ingress metering, that will provide Telesat with fine-grained control of network traffic. Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller will provide software control and automation for network management. 

Telesat is also utilizing Ciena Services for terrestrial network design, implementation, and testing, a note not typically found when it comes to the satellite industry talking about its terrestrial infrastructure.

Initial launch for the first group of Telesat Lightspeed satellites is expected in 2023 with the first-round network build expected to cost around $5 billion dollars. If all goes well, commercial services are expected to be available in the second half of 2023.  The government of Canada is an anchor customer for Lightspeed services, planning to use the LEO broadband network to provide connectivity across the country where fiber is unavailable.

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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