French Space Agency CNES has signed a contract with STMicroelectronics and Thales Alenia Space to design new low-cost chipsets for use in consumer terminals looking to use satellite broadband. The chip, dubbed “Astragan”, will permit video and data download speeds of 10 megabits/second.
The contract is worth some €7.5 million, with STM and Thales co-investing €20-€30 million in the scheme.
CNES cash is being funded by the French government’s Programme for Investing in the Future (PIA) fund. The move represents a perceived need for Europe to make a real push into satellite-generated broadband, and to have a ‘European’ solution to the two other systems in common use which are both USA-based (ViaSat of California, and Hughes Network Systems). Eutelsat, for example, uses ViaSat’s terminals.