ESA´s foresight enables European satellite operators to deliver EU goal
The European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) announced today that satellite broadband solutions are now available in every Member State of the Union. With the support of the European Commission, ESOA has created an online webtool to enable citizens to find a local satellite broadband distributor and an installer who can provide them with connectivity no matter where they live.
The tool was launched by ESOA Chairman Michel de Rosen at an event which took place today at the European Parliament and was chaired by MEP Lambert Van Nistelrooij and EC Vice President and Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. Welcoming the new web tool, Ms Kroes told Mr Rosen that the European satellite operators had made her day in allowing her to deliver on the bold promise she had made when appointed.
Satellite broadband is a valuable tool for helping meet these objectives, as it can reach users no matter where they are located, be it towns or villages, islands, or remote mountainous areas.
Enabled by ESA
Thirty years of continuous investment by ESA has enabled European satellite operators to deliver the Digital Agenda for Europe
(DAE) goal of providing broadband Internet to citizens across the whole of the European Union by the end of 2013.
ESA pioneered development of the advanced technologies which have made satellite broadband possible. In 1989, the launch of Olympus, the world's largest telecommunication satellite at the time, demonstrated new market applications using Ka-band state-of-the-art technology. Ka-band has since proved itself as a technology well suited for satellite broadband as demonstrated by the Hylas (Highly Adaptable Satellite) and Ka-Sat systems in Europe as well as several dedicated systems in the USA.
Within the broad scope of its ARTES programme, ESA also encourages market developments and applications of satellite broadband, helping to pave the way for the adoption of next-generation satellite broadband technology. ESA has been working closely with ESOA members and European satellite manufacturers for many years, with the shared goal of promoting satellite broadband as a key element in closing the digital divide in Europe. ESA has also funded awareness studies and has participated in strategic joint ESA/ESOA meetings with EU Commissioners.
ESA and the European Investment Bank, cooperating within the framework of the Broadband Mediterranean Development initiative, conducted broadband deployment analyses and forecast studies to promote broadband deployment in that region. This cooperative endeavour provided an excellent basis for awareness about the satellite broadband potential for Europe.
The EU has established the goal of having 30 Mbps satellite coverage available to all EU citizens by 2020. ESA supports the development of next-generation satellites and systems as an important technology to help meet the 2020 target. To achieve it, ESA, the EU Member States, and Canadian industry and operators have drawn up an ambitious roadmap for the coming decade. ESA ARTES programme provides a flexible framework for such activities across the full value chain, highly appreciated by the private and public entities.
Various innovative satellite technologies have been pioneered by ESA, such as powerful multi-beam antennas in Ku- and Ka-Band, as well as highly flexible payloads for optimal distribution of power to beams, allowing a single satellite to simultaneously provide hundreds of thousands of users throughout Europe with Internet access. Thanks to these developments, satellite-based Internet connectivity has now become an attractive option for homes and businesses throughout Europe.
Partnering with industry and telecom operators, ESA has supported the development of dedicated broadband satellite systems to take advantage of these new possibilities. Hylas-1
, launched in 2010, was the first satellite specifically dedicated to delivering broadband Internet services to Europe. It was developed under an ESA Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Avanti Communications.
Hylas-1 operates in the Ka-Band and its unique payload can be reconfigured in orbit, thanks to use of the Generic Flexible Payload
(GFP) technology, developed by ESA in partnership with EADS Astrium in the UK. With GFP, payloads can be reconfigured in orbit, adapting to market demands, essentially future-proofing satellites during their typical 15-year lifetimes.
Whereas Hylas was designed to provide connectivity at mainly fixed locations, the Alphasat satellite, launched in July 2013 by UK operator Inmarsat, will facilitate a broad array of mobile broadband services. Positioned at 25 degrees East, it will enable service providers to offer advanced mobile voice and high-speed data communications services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East using the extended L-Band, serving aeronautical, land, and maritime users across this vast region.
Alphasat is the largest and most sophisticated European telecom satellite ever built, exceeding 6.6 tonnes at launch. At its core is an innovative advanced integrated processor, allowing unprecedented flexibility and tremendous computing power, on the scale of 10 trillion operations per second.
The Alphasat mission is a PPP – the largest of its kind – between ESA and Inmarsat. These kinds of initiatives combine the commercial drive of industry with the know-how and resources of public entities, resulting in new services and jobs. They facilitate greater and more ambitious projects that provide maximum benefit for the European taxpayer.
On the ground
While advancing on board satellite technology, ESA also continues to focus on the ground terminals segments. This include such enabling technologies as new chipsets for wideband reception, new RF/IF front ends, improvements in efficiencies for forward and return links. These have been incorporated into two-way terminal systems using both fixed and mobile antennas. Systems such as the ESA supported Sat3Play enables IP-based providers to offer voice, data and television services in areas anywhere in the satellite coverage at a competitive price. ESA contributes to these developments by providing test beds, simulations tools, antenna characterization models, standards, tools for loan to industry such as channel emulators, two-way systems, mobile vehicles, modems, and antennas in various frequencies.
Satellite broadband opens the way to a wealth of applications, and ESA is also supporting the development of broadband applications under its ARTES programme. Examples include broadband Internet connectivity on trains, such as has now been implemented for Thalys, emergency management, telemedicine, tele-education, and backhaul connectivity for remote communities.