Telesat promises a satellite network offering internet connection similar to fibre to various businesses

According to Telesat, the Canadian telecommunications satellite operator, Lightspeed is coming soon. Lightspeed is the name it chose for its upcoming next-generation broadband satellite network. Thales Alenia Space will be the manufacturer, and the services will be available globally and will be no different high-speed fibre internet. Its constellation will comprise 298 such satellites. Additionally, it will be orbiting the Earth at a distance of approximately 1000 km from its surface. That altitude is only slightly higher than half that of the International Space Station (ISS).

According to Dan Goldberg, the CEO of Tesla, the company is not new in the industry. Therefore, venturing into Lightspeed is far from moving into uncharted waters. As a matter of fact, some aspects such as the market and customers are the same old ones. So, the difference comes in the architecture, which will be better and more groundbreaking than the previous one.

As usual, its customers will be businesses. Lightspeed’s constellation budget is $5 billion. The money will go towards purchasing satellites, paying for rocket launches, developing the necessary software platforms, constructing ground infrastructure, and eventually operating the network. Interestingly, a considerable chunk of money amounting to $3 billion will cater to the satellite’s cost. That’s the worth of the contract between Telesat and Thales Alenia Space. They have been in the business to business model, and 50 years later, the company doesn’t plan to change it. Therefore, Kuiper and Starlink by Amazon and SpaceX, respectively, will not be its competitors despite the project being quite similar.

Rural municipalities, cruise ships and airlines will be part of the customer base. That doesn’t mean that end customers can’t use the services, but that will only be possible through the Canadian government. The two have already signed a contract. It entails the government using Lightspeed to create a pool of capacity then sell it to extremely rural broadband providers and municipalities at a pocket-friendly price. As for Telesat, the project is about availing affordable satellite internet connection in the market.

If things go as planned, the launch will take place in 2023 and Lightspeed’s operation operations commencing soon after that. Its launch vehicle will most likely be Blue Origin’s, New Glenn. Its development is still ongoing, and its debut launch is scheduled for next year. Therefore, Goldberg, who has been following its progress, is hopeful that it will be ready by 2023. However, they are open to other launch providers, and the announcement of some of the alternatives will happen in a few months.

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