Telesat applies for a license in the UK to link Lightspeed terminals

In 2016, Telesat declared it would launch a 120-satellite Ka-band constellation in low-Earth orbit (LEO), spanning 6 orbital planes with approximately12 satellites in each plane, at a height of 1,000 km (620 mi). The Enhanced Satellite Constellation Project of the Canadian government is being complied with by placing the orbital planes in a location that will also provide global coverage. Telesat Lightspeed is the constellation’s official name. The business has expanded internationally.

With plans to begin launching Lightspeed satellites into low Earth orbit in 2025, Telesat has submitted an application for a U.K. permit to link broadband terminals with them. According to the Canadian operator’s application, the initial 198 Lightspeed satellites would be deployed in the 3rd quarter of 2025, according to a June 24 statement from the British telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Since supply chain concerns caused Telesat to reduce programs for the constellation by a third sometime this year, this launch window is smaller than what the company had originally described.

Initial services will begin in the UK in 2026, approximately one year later than Telesat company had anticipated before being affected by supply difficulties brought on by the pandemic.

Following a period of public consultation, Ofcom stated it will publish its decision on Telesat’s proposal to link user terminals via a NGSO (non-geostationary) satellite Earth station network license on September 12th.

The LEO broadband megaconstellations OneWeb and Starlink are already in possession of licenses that allow them to link satellites to the user terminals in the UK.

In order to connect to users, OneWeb and Starlink employ the Ku-band spectrum, while their gateway Earth Stations—which connect their constellations to either a private network or the internet and need a separate U.K. operating license—use Ka-band frequencies.

According to Ofcom, Telesat has not yet submitted an application to operate Earth centers in the United Kingdom, despite the fact that its scheduled terminals and gateways use the Ka-band frequency.

Recently, SpaceX’s Starlink submitted a request for approval to add six additional gateways in England to enhance services in the country, which is also the subject of an Ofcom consultation. As it quickly develops the constellation toward worldwide coverage, Starlink claimed it needs additional ground stations to fulfill user demand.

In spite of the fact that OneWeb’s satellite launches were halted in March as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a company senior official for the British startup stated on June 23 that deployments are expected to start up again in the 4th quarter of 2022.

By the end of the next year, according to Maurizio Vanotti, vice president of OneWeb’s space infrastructure development and partnerships, “we’re going to be in service with 24/7 global coverage.”

The spectrum coordination agreement that Starlink and OneWeb reached earlier this month has not yet been reached by Telesat, according to Ofcom. Ofcom stated that Telesat has not secured coordination deals with other licensed NGSO operators in the U.K. in a document it issued on June 24 to solicit opinions on Telesat’s licensing application.

Telesat’s Lightspeed satellites can eliminate interference by dynamically allocating capacity where and when necessary, according to Ofcom, who claimed Telesat informed the regulator of this.

This includes “by choosing the satellite to be used to deliver the service, by determining the steering and size of satellite spot beams, and by determining the spectrum amount and power assigned to them.” According to Ofcom’s preliminary assessment, Telesat Lightspeed “should be able to cohabit with current NGSO license holders given the approach indicated.

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