A new would-be satellite operator, LeoSat, has talked about placing 120-140 Ka-band satellites into orbit at heights of 1800 kms, but deliberately not seeking business from the billions of under-connected users around the planet. Instead, says Vern Fotheringham, CEO at LeoSat LLC, he wants to target “the top 3000 businesses, rather than the other 3 billion”. Overall costs are said to be in the region of $2.5 billion to $3 billion.
Fotheringham told trade magazine Space News that the rival announcements from the likes of Google and Sir Richard Branson for thousands of orbiting satellites are very different from LeoSat: “They will have tremendous coverage but they are going to suffer capacity constraints due to the fact that they’re not flying a lot of power. We are putting a high-capacity platform into service to solve some of the most intractable communications problems that industry and government have faced over the years that cannot be addressed by geosynchronous solutions.”
He also admits that it is not so many years ago that many well-financed satellite constellations failed to make any headway. Today’s plans were very different, he stated: “The real secret here is the development of low-cost, electronic beam-forming antennas, such as those Kymeta is developing, that allow tracking and signal hand-off. The technology development and proof of technology was all accomplished on my watch. The next wave of product development is at hand, with major equipment manufacturers.”
LeoSat has registered its network plan with the International Telecoms Union.