Cybersecurity/Trust | Infrastructure | Satellite
May 23, 2019

Inter-satellite laser links for commercial communications

By Diederik Kelder, Chief Strategy Officer, LeoSat

Data volumes are exploding, with more data created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. Communications networks are already carrying more than 1 Zeta Byte of traffic globally, and this is forecast to grow exponentially (source: Bell Labs).

Digital transformation is requiring many companies to review their strategies for capturing, accessing and transporting data. These developments are having a significant effect on the communications industry, with the need to invest in and deploy appropriate infrastructure seen as a priority, particularly as current satellite solutions remain suboptimal for data and are often seen as a last resort.

Digital business models transforming the landscape

Companies and government organizations have already come a long way in digitizing their business processes, both the internal administrative and logistic processes but also in interacting with customers and suppliers. A second more recent trend is the move to cloud-based applications.

“ ‘Always on’ connectivity and smart data analysis and management require resilient and future-proof networks to deliver connectivity and services.”

These trends mean businesses need reliable always-on connectivity wherever they operate. This can be particularly challenging for businesses with mobile and remote operations. Ships at sea, for instance, are becoming mobile offices which rely heavily on robust and reliable connectivity to the cloud.

Similar examples can be found in oil and gas where the latest trend is the transformation to the “digital oilfield”. Automation of in-field processes in combination with shared services on-shore will significantly enhance efficiency. This increasing demand to move large quantities of data quickly and efficiently around the world is fast outpacing the infrastructure needed to carry it.

Building a new laser-connected infrastructure in space

The rapidly advancing price/performance capability of computing, storage, and bandwidth is contributing to an adoption rate for the digital infrastructure that is two to five times faster than previous infrastructures, such as electricity and telephone networks.

By 2020, there will likely be 50 billion Internet-enabled devices. Those 50 billion devices will become interconnected into a web of the “Internet of things” for the “intelligent home” and “smart cities”. Businesses and governments are adapting to this Big Data environment and are becoming increasingly data driven, cloud based and trans-national.

LeoSat was established to deliver a viable satellite solution for enterprise data. Backed by SKY Perfect JSAT and Hispasat, our mission is to provide fast, reliable and ubiquitous data connectivity which will enable business growth worldwide.

To support the developing digital ecosystem, we plan to launch a constellation of up to 108 low Earth-orbit, laser-connected satellites to provide the fastest, most secure, and the widest coverage international and intercontinental carrier-class, data network in the world.

With LeoSat, data travels in its native form secure from end-to-end across an optical inter-satellite network, with no terrestrial touch points.

Leveraging the latest developments in satellite communications technology, our unique architecture is effectively an optical backbone in space using lasers to interconnect satellites to deliver an ultra-secure and highly reliable global data network for business operations in telecoms, energy, government and maritime markets.

We will be able to implement point-to-point data connections to and from anywhere on the planet without needing any terrestrial touchpoint in between.

Unmatched reliability and security for enterprise communications

For the government and enterprise communications sector, with the need to move large amounts of sensitive data around the world, reliability and security are key components of a critical data network. LeoSat’s advanced and unique system architecture is able to logically separate and route the data as it flows through the system allowing the system to deliver the highest performing, most secure, furthest reaching network in the world.

With LeoSat, data travels in its native form secure from end-to-end across an optical inter-satellite network, with no terrestrial touch points.

Enterprise communications can now rely on LeoSat for domestic and international data transport, communications backhaul or hosted solutions that are not only completely secure but delivered faster than on any other satellite or terrestrial network.

New opportunities for the telecom and media sector

Wired and wireless carriers are up against a rapidly shifting technology landscape. The transformational impact of digitization and the shift from 4G to 5G continues to drive telecommunications operators’ most critical strategic and operational decisions. This trend governs how telecom companies try to put to use their infrastructure investments and exploding data traffic demand, boost newly needed capabilities, rationalize their product and service offerings, improve the customer experience, and evolve their asset portfolios and business models.

LeoSat’s system using inter-satellite laser links for commercial communications, is a departure from existing solutions today, pairing the speed of fiber with the ubiquity of satellite.

“Always on” connectivity and smart data analysis and management require resilient and futureproof networks to deliver connectivity and services. LeoSat will provide a new touchless architecture, an optical backbone in space which is 1.5 times faster than fiber backbones.

For telecoms operators and companies managing the shift to digital, and the need to extend existing network infrastructure, we can provide an instant digital infrastructure from anywhere to everywhere which is fast, secure and reliable, opening up a wide range of new opportunities for telecom and media companies.

Cybersecurity — capabilities beyond satellite and beyond fiber

The issue of cybersecurity has been highlighted as a critical feature of business communications. The LeoSat constellation is designed with absolute security and resiliency in mind. Data will travel end-to-end across a single network.

This physically separated network ensures security on the lowest networking level, additionally, the multi-satellite constellation provides inherent redundancy, should issues arise with a single satellite. At any one time, there are always 2–7 satellites in view, depending on the latitude of operation.

“LEO satellites are able to provide true global coverage, ubiquity, and quick deployment.”

Regardless of technical or weather issues there are alternatives to route traffic. This underlines the myriad of safety options and high availability capabilities that the LeoSat constellation has inherently built in to ensure network resilience.

A new paradigm

LeoSat’s system using inter-satellite laser links for commercial communications, is a departure from existing solutions today, pairing the speed of fiber with the ubiquity of satellite. LEO satellites are able to provide true global coverage, ubiquity, and quick deployment. Fiber provides high-throughput, low latency, and a growth path.

LeoSat’s positioning between multiprotocol label switching (MPLS)/virtual private network (VPN) and traditional satellite and fiber markets, means that we are able to provide a unique offering which is already changing the perception of satellite infrastructure for data communications. And with over 1 billion USD in pre-launch customer agreements, there is clearly a commercial appetite for a laser-connected business backbone in space!

Our aim is to not only bring about a paradigm shift in the existing satellite communications sector, we also want to expand this sector, by enabling new opportunities through previously unavailable levels of performance combined with true worldwide reach.

*This article is one of several commissioned by ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau to be published in the recent ‘Evolving satellite communications’ edition of ITU News Magazine. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Inter-satellite laser links for commercial communications

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