European Space Agency, ViaSat partner to create high-speed broadband satellites

The pair plans to use satellites to boost the capacity and speed of home Internet services.

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NASA

The European Space Agency (ESA) and ViaSat Antenna Systems have inked a €68 million deal to develop satellites for boosting the speed and capacity of home broadband services and beyond.

On Monday, the groups said the new Public Private Partnership (PPP) will focus on "developing key components of the ViaSat-3 satellite communications system with European industry."

ViaSat-3 is a platform consisting of three ViaSat satellites connected over ground network infrastructure.

The satellites are capable of supporting over 1TB/ps network capacity, which ViaSat claims is "comparable to the total capacity of all commercial satellites in space today."

It is hoped the new platform will give ISPs the chance to offer consumers up to 100Mb/ps Internet speeds.

The program will focus on the ground infrastructure element, at least, to begin with; namely creating components for fixed and mobile user terminals, residential broadband, in-flight Wi-Fi and connected car applications.

In addition, the pair will work on equipment and gateways for cloud-based ground network infrastructure.

ESA says the partnership is worth €68 million. Also known as Project Aidan, the initial €31.2 million investment is co-funded by the companies, together with support from ESA member countries Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania.

"The PPP with ViaSat will bring ESA and industry together to quickly develop broadband products that will serve the needs of millions of consumers across Europe who are currently without adequate internet service," said Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications. "We believe this is a significant industrial opportunity that will keep Europe at the forefront of satellite and broadband technology development, giving Europe a leading position on the deployment of a next-generation broadband system with advanced ground networks and consumer equipment."

ESA and ViaSat expect to be offering products created through the satellite network in 2019.

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