EUTELSAT 117 West A provides hemispheric coverage in both C- and Ku-band as well as high-power regional coverage in Ku-band over North and South America. Credit: Eutelsat

SAN FRANCISCO – NXT Communications Corp. (NXTCOMM) announced plans Oct. 28 to begin demonstrating the performance of its electronically steered antenna through leased capacity on a Eutelsat Communications satellite.

Atlanta-based NXTCOMM unveiled its electronically steered antenna in June, which it considers a building block for a family of satellite antennas for mobile connectivity. Specifically, NXTCOMM plans to offer antennas for high-speed data transmission for aviation, military and mobility customers.

NXTCOMM signed an agreement with Eutelsat Communications to begin leasing Ku-band capacity in November on Eutelsat’s 117 West A satellite, a prelude to full antenna testing and initial low-rate production in 2021, according to an Oct. 28 news release. NXTCOMM’s roadmap also calls for testing Ka-band products in 2021.

“We are delighted to support NXTCOMM during the critical test and implementation phase of their high-performance antenna, and look forward to supporting them for many years into the future as they develop their unique mobility solutions,” Mike Antonovich, Eutelsat Americas CEO, said in a statement.

In a statement, Tim Morton, NXTCOMM co-founder and president, called Eutelsat “an ideal partner to help us get our new technology to market” and “to provide ongoing managed satellite service capacity to our customers as we scale production of our game-changing flat panel antennas.”

NXTCOMM opened a 929-square-meter production facility for electronically steered antennas in Cherokee County, Georgia, in July.

Companies are racing to develop and manufacture electronically steered flat-panel antennas capable of tracking broadband satellites companies and government agencies are sending into low Earth orbit.

Consulting firm Northern Sky Research (NSR) expects companies to ship 628,000 flat-panel antennas annually by 2029, a compounded annual growth rate of 54.5% .

“Despite harsh downturn in 2020 due to COVID-19, long development cycles and strong demand (especially in government markets) will help the equipment market rebound in the mid-term, when constellations come online and certain challenges of terminal production scale have been overcome,” according to NSR’s “Flat Panel Satellite Antennas, 5th Edition, published in June. “Given these developments, flat panels are expected to flourish, reaching commercial land-mobile markets and breaking into broadband.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...