March 27 2024  |  Connectivity & Satellites

Telesat and ThinKom expand agreement for LEO satellite network

By Robynne Trueman

Telesat and ThinKom expand agreement for LEO satellite network 

Telesat and ThinKom Solutions, Inc. have announced an expanded development partnership to certify ThinKom’s ThinAir Ka2517 antenna for the Telesat Lightspeed Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network.

The multi-year agreement will see the organizations cooperate on the integration and certification of the Ka2517 antenna with an airborne modem to enable communications across the Telesat Lightspeed Ka-band LEO network.

“ThinKom is keen to extend its position as the proven leader in airborne, multi-constellation, multi-orbit satellite terminal technology,” said Bill Milroy, CTO and co-founder of ThinKom. “We bring exactly what it takes, in terms of spectral efficiency, scan volume, and rigorous regulatory compliance, in order to fully unlock the unique constellation characteristics and advantages of the Telesat Lightspeed network. We are indeed eager to see airlines and their passengers benefit from the addition of this high-throughput, low latency global network.”

Telesat estimates that its enterprise-class constellation, paired with the Ka2517 antenna, will deliver over 1 Gbps to the aircraft, the press release said. The resulting connectivity will enable gate-to-gate, real-time communications for passengers.

ThinKom and Telesat have been formally cooperating on terminal development since the 2021 signing of an MoU which included validating the Ka2517’s ability to switch between satellites across multiple orbital planes. With the Telesat Lightspeed satellite manufacturing program now underway, satellite launches are scheduled to begin in 2026, with Ka2517 certification expected to be finalized before global service availability is scheduled for 2027.

More than 800 ThinAir terminals will be deployed on commercial aircraft by the end of this year with the capability to add the Telesat Lightspeed network to their supported communications pathways. As the terminal of choice for the Airbus HBCplus Ka-band linefit program, ThinKom plans to install the Ka2517 on up to one thousand more aircraft before the activation of Telesat Lightspeed services. ThinKom is pursuing direct linefit with Boeing, which will enable hundreds of additional Ka2517 installations.

“Airlines now have the ability to future-proof their inflight connectivity hardware investments when they select ThinKom’s proven, high-performance Ka2517 antenna,” said Dave Wendling, Chief Technical Officer, Telesat. “With a relatively simple modem kit installation, airlines will be able to seamlessly access or transition to Telesat Lightspeed connectivity for ubiquitous coverage and unsurpassed service.”

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