Advanced Television

Telesat requests ITU launch extension

August 10, 2022

By Chris Forrester

Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat is up against some tough ITU ‘bringing into use’ (BIU) deadlines for its proposed Lightspeed super-constellation of 188 satellites.

The ITU is careful with its BIU requirements; its rules are designed to eliminate the filing of so-called ‘paper projects’ where the filer would be granted frequency or orbital permissions for a number of years and thus eliminate access to those frequencies for rival operators. Hence the BIU rules which insist that the operator physically populate the orbital slots with actual satellites.

Telesat’s rights to use Ka-band frequencies are based in two filings to the ITU. The filings include obligatory deadlines that call for 10 per cent of its Lightspeed satellites to be in orbit by February 1st 2023; 50 per cent by February 1st 2026; and the constellation fully in place by February 1st 2028.

The first deadline is already impossible to meet.

Telesat says it is using the Canadian government to request the ITU to permit an extension to timings and citing ‘force majeure’ because of Covid challenges.

Not helping matters is Telesat raising the original C$5 billion (€ – now probably nearer C$6 billion – to complete the constellation. CEO Dan Goldberg says that he anticipates the cash to be in place – and thus orders for satellites placed – by the end of 2022.

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