Monday, February 20, 2017

Those Pesky Kids at Kepler Communications

          By Chuck Black

The future of Canada's space efforts, and the growth of its telecommunications infrastructure, is suddenly a lot less reliant on Canadian government initiatives and foreign controlled multinationals.

Toronto, Ontario based, Kepler Communications has contracted Amsterdam based Innovative Space Logistics to launch their first nano-satellite, using an Indian polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in November 2017.

Some of the "pesky kids" at Kepler include, from left to right: Nick Spina, Stephen Lau, Mina Mitry, Mark Michael, Wen Cheng Chong and Jeffrey Osborne. As outlined in the January 26th, 2017 Xconomy post "Techstars Picks 9 Startups for Seattle, Complementing Local Strength," Kepler, a graduate of the Techstars Seattle 2016 program, was the accelerator's first investment in the space sector, but was considered so successful that Techstars is actively looking for more space focused start-ups for their 2018 program. Photo c/o Kepler Communications.

As outlined in the February 16th, 2017 Kepler press release, "Kepler Contracts Innovative Space Logistics for Inaugural Mission" the mission will serve as a technology demonstration of Kepler's Ku-band software defined radio (SDR) and high gain antenna.

Kepler plans to use the technology as the backbone for a proposed constellation of "up to 140" low-Earth nano-satellites, placed in a variety of orbits for use as low cost satellite data re-transmitters. As outlined in the November 20th, 2016 post, " SpaceX, Telesat & Kepler Just Three of the Dozen Satellite Constellations Currently on the FCC Table," the company plans on targeting the fast growing machine-to-machine communications market currently growing up around "internet of things" applications and not the conventional terrestrial telecommunications market.

One hard to reach place where Kepler expects demand is in Canada's far north, particularly satellite-dependent Nunavut. As outlined in the February 16th, 2016 Financial Post article, "Cellphone towers in space: Startup Kepler Communications plans first Canadian nanosatellite launch," the company was co-founded by Samer Bishay, who also owns both Iristel, a Montreal based  provider of voice over internet protocol services, and Ice Wireless, a Canadian mobile network operator and telecommunications company that provides 3G/4G mobility services, mobile broadband internet, and fixed line telephone in the territories of Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Bishay "absolutely" plans to use the Kepler nano-satellites to improve wireless and internet service in the north, according to the article. "What we're providing is the data pipe basically... with satellite connectivity it helps remote communities where infrastructure like fibre would be very expensive to deploy."

The Kepler Ku-band repeater. According to Kepler CEO Mina Mitry, the upcoming flight in November, will launch "the first commercial LEO communications satellite to operate in Ku-band, a coveted band within the communications service provider world. With the increasing interest in mega LEO constellations, being the first company to actually bring this spectrum into use is a major step forward for Kepler." The nano-satellite launch is expected to cost between $200K and 300K US ($262K and $393K CDN), one hundredth of the cost of a standard launch Photo c/o Kepler Communications.

According to Kepler CEO Mina Mitry, “in the most basic sense, we’re putting up cell phone towers in space that can pick up signals from on the ground and from assets in space.”

The initial micro-satellite will serve as a "proof-of-concept" and additional micro-satellites will be added to the constellation as required to service commercial demand.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page