TAMPA, Fla. — Anuvu said Feb. 7 it is leasing ground infrastructure from Canadian satellite operator Telesat for a geostationary constellation it expects to start deploying this year.

The U.S.-based mobile connectivity specialist said Telesat is installing new antennas at teleports in Ontario and Alberta, Canada, for controlling up to eight small satellites it plans to deploy for serving growing demand for Wi-Fi on boats, aircraft, and remote locations.

Astranis, a Californian company that specializes in small geostationary spacecraft, is on track to deliver Anuvu’s first two satellites for a mid-2023 launch aboard a single SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, according to Anuvu, enabling the company to begin commercial services before the end of this year.

The first two satellites, designed to cover North America and the Caribbean, should have launched by now, according to the schedule Anuvu announced for the project in late 2021 after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Anuvu has still not moved forward with options for another six satellites from Astranis, more than a year and a half after unveiling plans for its own constellation.

Each under 400 kilograms, the proposed satellites aim to complement the capacity Anuvu leases in the region and worldwide from operators of larger geostationary spacecraft, including Telesat, that typically weigh thousands of kilograms.

Astranis satellites also have digital payloads that would give Anuvu more flexibility to respond to changes in connectivity demand than with the capacity it buys from other operators.

While Astranis operates the satellites it builds under its business model, it leases customers their capacity via long-term agreements that include the ability move bandwidth where it is needed.

A sharp decline in aviation and maritime demand amid pandemic-related travel restrictions helped push Anuvu into bankruptcy in July 2020, when it was known as Global Eagle Entertainment.

Anuvu said Jan. 17 it has also secured a deal to resell broadband from SpaceX’s Starlink constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO) to maritime customers to diversify its offering.

U.S.-based telco Pacific Dataport Inc’s Arcturus satellite, the first commercial spacecraft built by Astranis, is slated to join a delayed SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch early this year as a secondary payload to Viasat’s inaugural ViaSat-3 satellite.

Expanded Telesat partnership

Telesat is installing new nine-meter Ku-band and 9.2-meter Ka-band antennas at its flagship teleport in Allan Park, Ontario, under the deal with Anuvu, and at a backup site in Calgary, Alberta.

“The newly-built, state-of-the-art antennas at diverse locations within Canada allow us to maximize the capacity available to our U.S. and Caribbean customers,” Anuvu vice president of networks Tim Southard said in a statement, “reducing latency with shorter paths to the Internet and offering increased network resiliency.”

Anuvu said its tracking antennas in Allan Park would be next to the landing station the Canadian operator is developing for Telesat Lightspeed, its proposed LEO broadband constellation, offering additional synergies for its multi-orbit strategy.

Anuvu expanded a capacity leasing deal with Telesat last year that uses terminals designed to be forward-compatible with Lightspeed.

However, cost overruns and production issues have delayed Telesat’s LEO commercial services until at least 2026 — and the operator has not yet given an update on ambitions to finalize the constellation’s multi-billion dollar funding before the end of 2022.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...