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SatixFy CEO Details ‘Groundbreaking’ Digital Payload Project with OneWeb

By Mark Holmes | January 30, 2020

A OneWeb Low Earth Orbit satellite. Photo: PRNewsfoto/SatixFy,OneWeb

Earlier this month, OneWeb and SatixFy announced a significant deal where the two companies announced plans to add a digital technology pathway payload that will include a full digital payload into OneWeb’s launch schedule during 2021. This new technology will pave the way for satellites with a higher level of flexibility to efficiently support peaks in demand without over-sizing the constellation.

Satixfy CEO Yoel Gat told Via Satellite that the cooperative deal is a “groundbreaking” step toward the company’s long-term goal to (as Steve Jobs would put it) ‘make a dent in the universe.’

“We are jointly building a payload that can demonstrate all required functionality of a full digital architecture, that can route the data towards active users and active hot spots, as opposed to having complete global coverage,” said Gat. Building chipsets is a significant effort that requires lots of capital, but creates significant competitive advantage. We want to enable decent internet connections on planes. We want to enable a generation of low cost terminals that will make [Low-Earth Orbit] LEO services a reality for millions of users.”

The co-developed digital-transparent payload aims to demonstrate full beam hopping capability in both forward and return links. It will include an on-board-processing subsystem capable of running independent links on the user and gateway links on the ground with different capacities. Additional features include electronically steered multi-beam antennas with true time delay beam-forming, capable of pointing to multiple directions simultaneously.

Gat said the company decided to go with OneWeb as a partner because of the bent-pipe nature and global coverage of the operator’s first generation satellites, and the high-performance, low-cost nature of its planned second-generation satellites.

“OneWeb may be the first operator to have a full worldwide LEO service infrastructure with as much capacity as needed targeted at users. The capacity per its second generation satellites will be significantly higher than the first generation,” he said. “This time, all the traffic may go to users as opposed to covering an area. I am really optimistic about OneWeb because they will have the right coverage, the right services, the right pricing, first priority on the Ku band frequencies worldwide and I really hope OneWeb will be able to start their service in Q4 2021.”

Becoming a significant player in the LEO arena will be a big target for the company. Gat highlighted that Satixfy’s chips and products are standard-based. Satixfy antennas work with other vendor modems and its modems work with other vendor antennas. “Thus, our payloads work with any standard-based products,” he said. “Our claim is that if you use a combination of our products — the customer can gain higher capacity, lower power, lower weight and lower cost solutions. The combination between payload and terminals can create innovative integration — such as in the case of Aero terminals. We plan to work with other LEO providers but much of our attention is on helping OneWeb achievement their goals, successfully.”

In terms of its ambitions in IFC, Gat admits the company’s IFC plans goes beyond OneWeb and LEO. He said SatixFy plans to be the first electronic steerable antenna provider that enables multi-beam and LEO/Geostationary Orbit (GEO) service. He believes airlines and business jet customers are becoming more and more aware of the constellations that are coming, and want a future proof LEO/GEO capable product.

“Electronically steered is a must in order to switch between satellites every tens of seconds, instantly. Having the capability to do multiple beams, in LEO and GEO orbits, in multiple polarizations (including linear and circular), simultaneously — is a key feature of our product. We have already done a successful flight and plan to have a product ready by the end of 2020. We are negotiating multiple agreements. A good year for us will mean that we have a solid GEO/LEO product offering that will be a key improvement to current solutions in the market. Our OneWeb relationship will play a key role here as well,” Gat said.