Brazilian government boosts satellite infrastructure

A new control center was launched in Rio to enhance operations of the equipment, intended to boost the country's broadband coverage.

The Brazilian government launched a new control center for its satellite intended to extend broadband coverage nationwide.

The control center for the SGDC-1 satellite started operations yesterday (19) and is based in Rio de Janeiro as a backup site for the Center for Space Operations of the country's capital Brasília, which controls the satellite.

The Rio center, which is located at the Navy's aerospace base, is a joint endeavor of the Ministry of Defense and government-owned telecommunications company Telebras. It will be operating and receiving data from the satellite, which entered orbit in May 2017, and take over in case of failover in the operations in the main control center.

According to Brazil's Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications, Gilberto Kassab, the Rio center is a step forward in terms of using the satellite's capabilities for areas such as security, health and agriculture.

At the launch, Kassab cited examples within those areas that would benefit from additional broadband coverage such as border monitoring, as well as quality and high capacity broadband to public services - particularly health and education - as well as precision agriculture.

In addition, Telebras president Jarbas José Valente described the Rio base as "fundamental" for strategic communications as well as the population.

The idea is to use part of the band to offer Internet coverage to thousands of small towns that are digitally excluded, but also have greater control over the traffic of sensitive and strategic information given the additional reliability of the infrastructure.

SGDC is Brazil's first own satellite. It was built by Visiona, a joint venture between Telebras and Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer, Thales Alenia Space and Arianespace in France.

The project got support from the Brazilian government after revelations around spying on Brazil through the US National Security Agency became public in 2013 and national security concerns became a more serious matter. Until then, talks of building a satellite had been hampered by conflict of interest between government departments.