Telesat: “No low-cost LEO antennas in near term”

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Elon Musk is inviting consumers in rural America to install his Starlink satellite broadband system, at a cost of $99 a month. They also have to pay $499 for the antenna and its associated kit. However, it is widely accepted that Musk’s SpaceX is swallowing some of the antenna’s costs.

As recently reported, the search for a low-cost antenna is crucial if satellite-based broadband is to reach the mass-market. Now, Dan Goldberg, President/CEO at Ottawa-based Telesat, has said he agrees with the outlook.

Telesat has plans to order at least 117 new satellites to go into a LEO constellation (and will likely announce the prime contractor last this year). But he admits he has serious doubts about a low-cost antenna emerging.

“We are still sceptical that the antenna that would go on a consumer’s home is going to be low-cost enough and high-performing enough for that to make sense,” he said on a conference call with analysts.

Worse, perhaps, Goldberg admitted that such a low-cost antenna was not on Telesat’s near-term or even medium-term roadmap although he was optimistic that something would emerge eventually.

As to plans for Telesat’s LEO constellation, Goldberg told analysts that the company would be concentrating on business-to-business and government customers, and that these markets would be sufficient to justify the investment.


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