Newtec Modems Successfully Tested On Telsat’s First LEO Satellite

Now that Telesat’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite is successfully in orbit, it has begun testing third-party vendor products that could benefit form the satellite technology. The initiative is part of Canada-based Telesat’s plans to deploy a global LEO constellation of 117 satellites for broadband connectivity that it said would revolutionize broadband communications around the world.

Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite was launched on January 12, 2018, and the company is now conducting live demonstrations of its capabilities. Newtec, a supplier of satellite communications technology, has become the first to test its modems over-the-air on the LEO satellite. Its modems were installed at Telesat’s Allan Park facility in September. Testing of the Ka-band payload is ongoing and Newtec’s technology is being used to demonstrate different service scenarios.

The latest trials saw test user traffic successfully passed over the satellite via Newtec modems, showing that flawless operation without packet loss can be achieved on LEO constellations; delivering highly reliable services with no packet loss under high Doppler conditions. Telesat expects to conduct live phase 1 LEO testing with its customers in the coming weeks.

Once fully deployed, Telesat’s global LEO constellation will combine the company’s global spectrum rights in Ka-band with Telesat’s proprietary LEO architecture. The constellation is designed to deliver increased capacity, speed, security, resiliency, latency and low cost, delivering affordable fiber quality connectivity everywhere. Telesat said LEO will help it accelerate 4G/5G expansion, bridge the digital divide with fiber-like high-speed services into rural and remote communities, and set new levels of performance for commercial and government broadband on land, sea and in the air.

Telesat’s headquarters in Ottawa, Canada.

Telesat’s headquarters in Ottawa, Canada.

Dave Wendling, Telesat's Chief Technical Officer, said his company wants to collaborate with companies like Newtec to validate key performance aspects of its 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,” he said. “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.”

According to market research firm Northern Sky Research, wholesale operator revenue from non-geostationary constellations, such as Telesat LEO, is expected to post a compound annual growth rate of over 40 percent during the next decade. The benefits of non-geostationary satellites include very high-throughput, service reliability, cost-effectiveness, low latency and overall superior broadband performance.

“LEO is a technology we watch closely, and we are pleased that our modems have been able to support Telesat on this important technology proof,” said

Frederik Simoens, Chief Technology Officer at Newtec, said that the testing process began with small-scale tests and have been steadily increasing in scope throughout the process. The tests, he said, show the potential of LEOs in efficiently and reliably delivering end-user traffic.

“Newtec’s modem portfolio, combined with next-generation on-board technologies, is ideally suited to bring maximum efficiency and throughput,” he said.

Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite was also used earlier this year for testing Inflight connectivity services from Global Eagle for aviation and maritime users. Global Eagle is also helping to design user terminals, 

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