Telesat is teaming up to perform trials and advance 5G connectivity for industries as a new partner of the public-private ENCQOR 5G testbed in Canada.

The satellite operator this week announced a strategic partnership with the five-year ENCQOR 5G initiative. The program is supported by the governments of Canada, Québec, and Ontario, and led by technology partners Ericsson, Ciena, Thales, IBM Canada and CGI. Formed in 2017, the $400 million program has public and private investment to establish a pre-commercial 5G corridor focused on collaboration for R&D and commercialization of new products. It has innovation sites between the two Canadian provinces, and as of mid-2021 had engaged 700 small-and-medium enterprises in the program.

As part of the partnership Telesat will conduct 5G demos and pilots, with a particular eye on industries operating in rural areas. The satellite operator will use the ENCQOR testbed, satellite assets and national and international 5G infrastructures.

Telesat is working to launch its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite service Lightspeed, which already has investments from Canadian governments and will be involved in the work with ENCQOR.

“As a leader in satellite communications and through our close collaboration with the Canadian, Quebec and Ontario governments, we felt a partnership with ENCQOR 5G was a natural next step in fusing the satellite industry with mobile networks to accelerate the future of 5G technology,” said Stephen Hampton, manager of Public Policy at Telesat, in a statement. 

Hampton added that Telesat believes the combined work will reduce the digital divide for industrial verticals in addition to benefitting both Canadian ICT and digital industries.

“We think this will have a marked impact on the citizens of Canada and will set the stage to export technologies and 5G networks to the global market – especially once we seamlessly integrate our highly advanced Telesat Lightspeed LEO satellite network into these 5G networks,” Hampton continued.

In April of 2021 Ericsson deployed the ENCQOR 5G standalone end-to-end 5G network for the program’s community.

Telesat’s Lightspeed targets enterprise

Unlike some LEO initiatives like Starlink’s SpaceX, Telesat isn’t targeting direct-to-consumer service with Lightspeed but going after enterprise instead including telecom and mobile operators as well as government, maritime and aeronautical customers.

Telesat’s initial LEO network consists of 298 satellites and aims for service to start in the first half of 2024.

In a note to investors this week, LightShed partners initiated coverage of Telesat, which became a publicly traded company in November after a merger with Loral Space & Communications.

Lightshed noted that Telesat estimates a $190 billion enterprise market in 2025, differing from the direct-to-consumer market focused on by Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper.

“DTC does offer a larger market opportunity of $240 billion in 2025, but the competitive dynamics are more challenging,” wrote analysts Walter Piecyk and Joe Galone.

As for the Lightspeed opportunity the analysts said Telesat’s most recent presentation indicated it could capture 1% of a $430 billion total addressable market (TAM) in the fifth year of operations, implying revenue of $4.3 billion. LightShed said they’re more conservative, with the firm estimating Lightspeed captures 0.8% share of the smaller $200 billion enterprise total addressable market in five years from launch.

Some of the ENCQOR founding technology partners already have relationships with the satellite operator for its Lightspeed efforts. In October Telesat said it would deploy routing and switching platforms from Ciena for the Lightspeed terrestrial backhaul network. Meanwhile, Thales subsidiary Thales Alenia Space is Telesat’s manufacturing partner.

Lightshed noted that supply chain issues with Thales Alenia Space could cause slight delays for the original 2023 target for commercialization of Lightspeed.

“This is likely to be a significant area of focus for investors, so positive news on the supply chain and progress with Thales offers catalysts for the stock,” wrote Lightshed analysts, who added that the delay doesn’t appear to be lengthy based on comments from a main Telesat supplier, which indicated months or quarters rather than years.  

In other satellite news, Intelsat this week announced it signed a deal that will add two Thales Alenia Space software-defined GEO satellites, scheduled to be in service in 2025, to its network and advance the operator’s global 5G ambitions.

Original article can be seen at: