Canadian satellite operator Telesat selected Thales Alenia Space as its choice manufacturer for Lightspeed, Telesat’s low earth orbit (LEO) broadband satellite constellation.

The Lightspeed constellation will comprise 298 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites that promise to bring gigabit speeds at 30 to 50-millisecond latency to anywhere in the world. The network will operate on global priority Ka-band spectrum rights and has a capacity of 15 Terabits per second. The service can offer up to 7.5Gbps on a single terminal and up to 20 Gbps to a single hotspot.

Telesat Lightspeed network specifications. Image source: Telesat.

“As the world’s leader in manufacturing and implementing cutting edge global satellite constellations, Thales Alenia Space is the right industrial partner to deliver Lightspeed,” said Dan Goldberg, Telesat president.

The company said in the Feb. 9 news release that it’s also developing affordable end-user terminals for every target market.

But Telesat’s Lightspeed doesn’t service consumers. Instead, it targets fixed-mobile network operators, aeronautical and maritime users, government, and enterprises. Network operators can purchase capacity from Telesat and sell it to consumers.

On Nov. 9, 2020, the Canadian federal government announced a CA$600 million deal with Telesat to secure capacity for rural Canada network operators at a reduced rate, thereby lowering broadband subscription costs for underserved areas.

Thales Alenia Space is a French-Italian joint venture between the Thales Group and Leonardo and is the largest satellite manufacturer in Europe.

“Sustainable development will increasingly depend on being connected in a secure and reliable way, overcoming inequalities and barriers,” said Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo chief executive officer in a media statement. “Today’s agreement places Thales Alenia Space and Telesat at the centre of one of the main strands of the digitization process”.

Telesat expects to launch its first Lightspeed satellites in two years and begin beta testing in the second half of 2023.

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