Canadian company planning micro-satellite network

Jan 20, 2011 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- A Canadian company is planning to launch a network of small satellites into a low orbit to improve Internet access in remote and rural areas and to help relieve network congestion caused by the recent global explosion in the use of mobile Internet devices.

The COMMStellation™ network will comprise a constellation of 78 small and inexpensive satellites in orbit at about 1,000 kilometers above the Earth, and is the project of Microsat Systems Canada Incorporated (MSCI). The micro-satellites can use cheaper and more ordinary electronics systems than satellites orbiting much higher because their low orbit is less demanding than in space. They will also use less power to transmit data because they are closer to the surface. The satellites are small enough that 14 of them can be launched on a single rocket, which also cuts costs.

MSCI plans to launch the first satellites in 2014 and have the entire network operational the following year. The satellites will be launched into six orbital planes, 30 degrees apart, with 13 satellites and a spare in each plane. Once the network is in orbit a ground station network of about 20 bases around the world will link to the satellites, which in turn will link to mobile phone base stations or network hubs.

Each of the COMMStellation satellites will be capable of transferring 12 gigabits of data per second and will give coverage to a circular area of over 18 million square kilometers. The satellites will orbit on a path that crosses the north and south poles, which means that at higher latitudes the orbits will draw closer and give even better coverage in areas (such as the northern areas of Canada) where almost no coverage is currently available and where fiber-infrastructure is too costly.

The lifespan is expected to be 10 years, after which they can be returned to the atmosphere where they will burn up, instead of adding to the already massive amounts of orbital junk.

President and CEO of MSCI, David Cooper, said in a press release that there is “unprecedented strain on ” because of the millions of new data-hungry devices such as smartphones and tablets, and many mobile networks are near or at capacity. The COMMStellation network would relieve the strain by providing much-needed “backhaul” capacity to mobile networks around the world.

Another plan to relieve the congestion is Google's O3b plan, consisting of eight satellites launched into a much higher orbit than COMMStellation. O3b refers to the “other three billion” who still have no connectivity to the Internet. Cooper said COMMStellation would provide five times more data bandwidth density than O3b even at the equator, but would cost hundreds of millions of dollars less.

Explore further: Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

More information: www.mscinc.ca/news/2011-1-19-MSCI-COMMStellation.html

Related Stories

ESA places two satellites into orbit

Aug 15, 2007

The European Space Agency successfully launched an Ariane rocket from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on a mission to place two satellites into orbit.

Satellite multimedia for mobile 'phones'

Jul 26, 2007

ESA’s Telecommunications Department is supporting the development of technology needed for satellite systems to broadcast digital multimedia content such as video, television programmes, radio, and data to mobile telephones ...

ESA sets MetOp-A launch date

Sep 14, 2006

The European Space Agency says the launch of MetOp-A, the first in a new European series of three meteorological satellites, will be Oct. 7.

Recommended for you

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

Apr 17, 2014

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

Apr 16, 2014

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

Apr 16, 2014

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

lengould100
1 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2011
Hmmm.. Very credible until I read that Google is a competitor.
gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2011
If I were Google, I'd seriously consider investing in COMMstellation instead.

More news stories

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...