Intelsat Announces EpicNG Satellite Platform

Intelsat has announced their new EpicNG satellite platform, due in 3-4 years, which features a complementary overlay to their fixed satellite network. It will be fully integrated with Intelsat’s existing satellite fleet and employ C, Ku and Ka-bands, wide beams, spot beams, and frequency reuse technology to provide world-wide broadband coverage.

Intelsat says it is currently evaluating proposals by several manufacturers. The first two satellites, Intelsat 29e and Intelsat 33e, are expected to be operational in 2015 and 2016, and feature wide coverage and high throughput capacity.

Combining Intelsat’s spectral rights in the C-, Ku- and Ka-bands with the technical advantages of high throughput technology, Intelsat says the EpicNG platform will be fully open architecture. Customers will be able to use existing hardware and network topologies, and in many cases, define their own service characteristics.

Intelsat expects to “provide four to five times more capacity per satellite than our traditional fleet” with total throughput “in the range of 25-60 Gbps”. According to satellite consultant Tim Farrar, this may be a total not a per satellite figure. He thinks the throughput per satellite is around 12Gbps, roughly the same per satellite as Inmarsat’s Global Xpress – the super-fast, Ka-band broadband network from Inmarsat.

Meanwhile, O3b Networks is preparing an innovative medium-orbit satellite. It will orbit around the equator – but not at 23,000 miles (36,000km). Instead it will use a medium earth orbit (MEO) 8,000km away from Earth. As a result, round-trip data transmission times are reduced to approximately 100 milliseconds. O3b Networks’ satellites are equipped with steerable antennas, which, like those used on imaging satellites, have the ability to remain locked onto a fixed location on Earth as the satellite passes overhead.

This week they launched O3bCell – a new solution that enables mobile network operators to deliver high quality 3G voice and broadband services in markets and regions where other satellite and terrestrial technologies fall short. Together with ViaSat, their primary gateway partner, they are installing satellite terminals around the world. O3B hopes to launch the first eight satellites in the first half of 2013 with a Soyuz launcher from French Guyana.

Thales Alenia Space will build their satellites. The system needs more than four satellites to function. The third group of four satellites is expected to arrive a year after the first two. O3b’s biggest shareholder is SES of Luxembourg, currently the world’s 2nd largest satellite fleet operator, after Intelsat (they trade the top spot periodically). SES operates a fleet of 50 geostationary satellites able to reach 99% of the World’s population while Intelsat operates a fleet of 52 communications satellites.

The largest fixed satellite operators also include Eutelsat (28 satellites ), Telesat Canada (13 satellites), Japan’s JSAT (8 satellites), Brazil’s Star One, Spain’s Hispasat, Australia’s SingTel/Optus, and Russian Satellite Communications.

Russia’s largest satellite-fleet operator, Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC), is in the middle of a major expansion program with Russia’s second-largest satellite fleet operator, Gazprom Space Systems of Moscow.

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Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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