EU backs €6bn satellite system
February 16, 2022
By Chris Forrester
The European Union (EU) has published an 80-page document which proposes a Public-Private partnership satellite communications system. The scheme is budgeted at €6 billion (€5.2bn) and would give Europe a secure and independent satellite constellation.
The proposals have two prime objectives:
1/ to ensure governmental users access to a secure communication system for the protection of critical infrastructures, surveillance and crisis management
2/ to allow for the provision of commercial services by the private sector.
The EU document says: “There is an unprecedented demand for satellite communication services. Spurred by this technological progress, we see the emergence of various public-supported or subsidised non-EU mega-constellations in the US, China and Russia, among others. At the same time, the geopolitical context, cyber and hybrid threats further prompt security and resilience concerns.”
The EU says there is a “mismatch” and a shortage of available frequency filings and orbital slots due to the dramatic increase of mega-constellations. Absence of timely action at EU level would also endanger the competitiveness of EU industry in key technologies and markets.
“This initiative will offer mobile and fixed broadband satellite access, satellite trunking for B2B services, Satellite access for transportation, reinforced networks by satellite and satellite broadband and cloud-based services. It can support edge computing, Internet of Things, autonomous driving, e-health, smart working and education, in-flight and maritime connectivity, and smart agriculture,” says the proposal.
The cash for the proposed system would come from the EU with funding of €2.4 billion. The European Space Agency is expected to kick in another €750 million. The remainder would come from EU member states and the private sector. The EU targets initial service by the end of 2024 and a full service (probably with the LEO layer) by mid-2027.