Newtec and Telesat trial connectivity on LEO satellites

09 October 2018 | James Pearce

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Satellite communications firm Newtech says its modems have become the first to be successfully tested over the air on Telesat’s new Low Earth Orbit satellite.

Telesat launched its first LEO satellite in January and has now began testing and demonstrating the technology on the unit as part of its plans to launch a constellation of LEO satellites.

LEO satellites, which sit lower in orbit than traditional communications satellites are expected to revolutionise the satellite business by offering lower latency satellite connectivity services across the globe. They typically are positioned in a circular orbit about 160 to 2,000 kilometres (99 to 1,243 mi) above the earth's surface

Telesat is using Newtec’s modems to demonstrate different service scenarios while testing the Ka-band payload on its LEO satellite. Recent trials included passing user traffic over the satellite, demonstrating “flawless” operation without packet loss.

Wholesale operator revenue from non-geostationary satellite constellations is predicted to see a compound annual growth rate of over 40% during the next decade, according to figure from Northern Sky Research.

Telesat is one of a number of operators with plans to deploy low orbit satellite constellations, with the likes of OneWeb and Iridium also looking at this sector.

Once fully deployed, Telesat LEO will look to offer 4G and 5G services into rural and remote communities, offering better services for broadband on land, air and across the sea.

“Telesat is pleased to collaborate with high technology vendors such as Newtec to validate key performance aspects of our LEO system design. Our state-of-the-art LEO constellation will combine Telesat’s global spectrum rights in Ka-band with our proprietary LEO architecture to provide fiber-like broadband performance where terrestrial networks cannot reach,” said Dave Wendling, Telesat's Chief Technical Officer.

“This latest round of testing marks a significant step towards the future, showing that advanced modem technology, which works seamlessly with LEO satellites, is already available on the market today.”