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FCC Approves Telesat LEO Constellation Over the US

By Kendall Russell | November 7, 2017
Telesat headquarters. Photo: Telesat.

Telesat headquarters. Photo: Telesat.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted Telesat’s petition to access the United States market with the company’s soon-to-be-deployed global Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation.

Per the ruling, Telesat has obtained global rights to use approximately 4 GHz of Ka-band spectrum for its LEO system. According to the company, the system will provide cost-effective fiber-like broadband anywhere in the world for business, government and individual users.

The initial constellation will consist of approximately 120 satellites by 2021. Telesat is already evaluating options to expand its system beyond the initial deployment, despite the fact that it has not yet selected a manufacturer for the assets. The company announced it will launch two prototype LEO satellites later this year.

The FCC ruling comes despite ViaSat’s clear opposition to the petition. ViaSat also seeks authority to provide broadband service in the U.S. using Ka-band spectrum, and has accused the FCC of providing Telesat with “anti-competitive advantages that are unwarranted and inconsistent with Commission policy.”

Spirent, SES, O3b and OneWeb have also expressed concerns about the Telesat constellation, including requesting more details on the company’s orbital debris mitigation plans. The FCC stated that such concerns from competitors on interference and orbital debris can be addressed “through inter-operator coordination.”