Telesat taking to UK skies with Lightspeed satellites
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
(Credit: Telesat)

Communications regulator Ofcom has received an application from Canadian satellite communications company Telesat for an Earth Station Network Licence to deploy their Lightspeed satellite constellation over the UK.

According to Telesat, its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications network will provide services to various enterprise, maritime and government customers in the UK.

Telesat launched its first satellite in January 2018, ahead of plans to develop a larger constellation dubbed Lightspeed. Telesat said it ultimately aims for the constellation to comprise 298 satellites launched by the end of 2025 with commercial services added in 2026.

The spectrum requested from Ofcom falls in the Ka-band (27.5 GHz to 30 GHz range), giving them the ability to deliver multigigabit-speed broadband services to enterprises, as well as supporting mobile backhaul, maritime and offshore platforms, aviation, and government organisations.

Telesat’s application comes in the same week that Ofcom has proposed to allow satellite operators to access more spectrum so they can provide a wider range of broadband services including in hard-to-reach areas.

The proposals involve extending spectrum access under Ofcom’s Earth Station Network licence to include the 14.25-14.5 GHz band. This would double the capacity available to satellite operators in what is known as the Ku-band meaning operators would be able to use the full 14-14.5 GHz band for their services.

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “This application is to allow the deployment of user terminals, which is the equipment used by customers for a variety of different purposes. This can be on the ground, in the air or at sea. The licence places obligations on the satellite operator to ensure they can operate alongside other satellite constellations.

“We are considering Telesat’s submissions, including whether they can coexist with other satellite systems in close proximity, and any potential risks to competition.”

Telesat’s project has received backing from the Canadian government, which agreed to invest $1.15bn in the company last year to take total investments in Lightspeed to $4bn.

The Lightspeed constellation will join existing LEO satellites including Elon Musk’s Starlink constellation which has more than 2,200 devices in orbit, while the UK government-backed OneWeb has launched nearly 400 devices and Amazon’s Project Kuiper has recently announced launch contracts for its 3,276 satellites.

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