FIRST UP Satcom | Telesat tests Newtec modem with LEO satellite; Satellite IRG changes name; Maxar in home stretch on US domestication
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Telesat tested a Newtec modem with its low-Earth-orbit demonstration satellite, Newtec announced Oct. 8. The companies practiced different service scenarios, routing digital traffic over the modem and the Ka-band satellite. Telesat installed the modem at its Allan Park teleport in Canada this September. Customer trials are slated to start in the coming weeks. [Newtec]
The Satellite Interference Reduction Group changed its name to the Satcoms Innovation Group on Oct. 9 to reflect an expanded focus on more than just signal interference. The Satcoms Innovation Group, or SIG, seeks ways to “improve operational efficiency, reduce the risk of service impacting events, and improve quality of service” across the satellite communications industry. SIG mentioned artificial intelligence, automation, and drones as added areas of interest. The group will retain satellite signal interference as a focus in addition to the new topics. [SIG]
Maxar Technologies expects to finish its transition to a U.S.-incorporated company in January, improving the Canadian company’s ability to compete for U.S. government contracts. Maxar’s transition to a U.S. company accelerated last year with its purchase of Colorado-based DigitalGlobe. The “domestication” should not have any impact on Maxar’s employees, customers, suppliers, or other stakeholders, according to the company. Maxar’s security holders will meet Nov. 16 to vote on the company’s plan. [Maxar Technologies]
France and Uzbekistan signed a cooperation agreement on space Oct. 9 that encompasses science, Earth observation, telecommunications satellites and other subjects. Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the French space agency CNES, signed the framework agreement with Uzbekistan’s minister of foreign affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov during Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s first visit to France. French President Emmanuel Macron attended the signing. CNES said the two countries will develop joint projects and promote space activities to younger generations. [CNES]
X-band satellite operator XTAR demonstrated a 26 megabits-per-second link between one of its satellites and a 3.9-meter terminal from Honeywell. Leidos and Newtec participated in the trial, which maintained the link during heavy rain, according to XTAR. Jay Icard, XTAR’s president and CEO, said the X-band test builds the case for the military frequency as one that is “efficient with small terminals, works well in mobile situations and remains strong in rain, wind or dust storms.” [Via Satellite]
A shakeout is likely looming in the satellite market, as analysts project a demand for only two to three “megaconstellations.” Those systems of hundreds to thousands of satellites will struggle to find sufficient financing to develop them, analysts predicted, citing the high costs that will make it difficult to raise money for any of them. Systems serving an existing customer base should find it easier to raise money, though, than those seeking to open new markets with their broadband communications services. [SpaceNews]
The U.S. Army is not yet convinced that it can buy broadband communications for its forces as a commercial service. Army officials said they have unique challenges that satellite operators may not fully understand, such as the tough combat environments those systems need to operate in. Another concern is that commercial satellite services may not be compatible with most of the military’s terminals, antennas and modems that are used today. [SpaceNews]
Puerto Rico-based company N-Sat has joined the GlobalSat Group mobile satellite services consortium, expanding the group’s reach in the Caribbean. N-Sat President Noemi Perez will lead Globalsat’s Caribbean division, providing satellite hardware and voice and data services to the region. “Our friends at N-Sat were instrumental in the rapid provision of emergency satellite communications services when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year,” Globalsat Group CEO J. Alberto Palacios said in a statement. “We immediately realized that our shared vision and customer-oriented philosophy were a perfect match.”
Intelsat says that it and other satellite operators may have to buy new satellites if they lose 200 megahertz or more of C-band spectrum in the United States. The operators have proposed a transfer of about 100 megahertz of capacity to terrestrial wireless providers, but some, including one FCC commissioner, have argued that 5G networks will require 200 to 300 megahertz of C-band capacity currently allocated to satellites. An Intelsat executive said last week that if that larger transfer goes through, it and other operators will likely have to build new satellites for operation at new orbital locations to make up for the lost capacity. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.