Telesat Snags First “Major” LEO Constellation Customer and Could Get Budget Boost

Telesat Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation. Credit: Telesat.

Telesat announced OmniAccess, a specialized maritime connectivity solutions provider, as its first “major” customer for the company’s LEO constellation.

The announcement comes shortly after the company announced its fourth quarter and 2018 year end results. For its 2018 fiscal year, revenue was $903 million, a decrease of 2% ($16 million) compared to the same period in 2017 when adjusted for changes in foreign exchange rates.

Details of the contract aren’t available but Telesat said in a release that “they (OmniAccess) will become an important partner for Telesat LEO and the agreement provides OmniAccess with certain limited exclusivity to serve the superyacht market.”

While the agreement is a good one for Telesat, it is a limited market, albeit one where many of the customers have deep pockets.

Bertrand Hartman, CEO and founder of OmniAccess said of the deal; “It is difficult to overestimate the impact the advent of Telesat’s unique LEO service will have on the maritime industry at large. Telesat LEO will allow us to offer a truly global service, combining an extreme level of availability, unprecedented speed levels and an ultra-low latency that rivals, or even exceeds, the fastest of today’s landbased fiber-connections. For the first time in history, onboard systems and services will no longer be restricted by the limits imposed by today’s GEO & MEO-based technologies, finally bridging a digital divide that has held back onboard IT applications for so long. This will be a major game-changer for the maritime industry, profoundly impacting many social and technical aspects of vessel-operations. OmniAccess is genuinely excited to be at the forefront of such an important technological breakthrough with our valued partner Telesat, an innovative and established market-leader we have worked closely with for over 10 years beginning with the first space-segment OmniAccess ever procured. We are looking forward to our next joint ‘first’.”

Commenting on the deal, Dan Goldberg, President and CEO of Telesat said “OmniAccess is a leader in providing broadband connectivity to superyachts and other high-end maritime segments and Telesat is delighted to be building on our longstanding partnership by signing them as our first Telesat LEO customer. This commitment by OmniAccess to Telesat LEO is another strong endorsement of the transformational design and performance advantages of our system. Leading satellite broadband providers like OmniAccess, regardless of the market vertical they serve, recognize the importance of providing their customers with the most high performing connectivity services available. Telesat’s state-of-the-art LEO constellation will deliver an unmatched broadband experience – affordable, high throughput, ultra-low latency, and ubiquitous coverage – providing companies like OmniAccess with a sustainable competitive advantage in their markets. We look forward to working with OmniAccess to deliver a disruptive broadband experience for their growing base of high end maritime customers.”

The OmniAccess news comes shortly after the company had signed a deal with Alphabet’s Loon to design a network operating system for the Telesat LEO constellation along with a launch deal with Blue Origin.

The CBC is also reporting ahead of tomorrow’s budget that one of its key components will be a pledge, and funding, so that all Canadians have access to high-speed internet by 2030.

The broadband initiative is not new. In last years budget the government proposed “$100 million over five years for the Strategic Innovation Fund, with a particular focus on supporting projects that relate to LEO satellites and next generation rural broadband.”

If the report is accurate, then Telesat could see a budget boost as they attempt to build their LEO satellite constellation.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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