Telecommunications

ESA's Small GEO satellite

Satellite communications permeate our lives. Many everyday actions that we take for granted happen because telecommunication satellites are in space and ready to serve any moment:

  • radio signals are often distributed via satellite
  • the content of many newspapers is sent to printing plants using satellite links
  • televised sports and news events are often transmitted via satellite
  • news agencies use satellites to distribute text, audio or video to their affiliates
  • in many countries, access to the Internet is via satellite

Increasingly, satellites are also being used for tele-education, telemedicine or videoconference systems. Plus, in most remote and not-so-remote parts of the world, satellite communications continue to play a fundamental role in the infrastructure of telephone and other services.

By investing in new technological avenues and new system concepts, ESA acts as a catalyst for European industry to develop and exploit emerging products, services and markets.

Cooperation with Russia

Because of its huge geographical area and a certain lack of today’s technology, telecommunication services are very much in demand in Russia. On the other hand, Russia‘s valuable experience in satellite telecommunications is certainly of interest to Europe.

With the support of and liaison between national agencies, developers of Russian telecommunication satellites have successfully cooperated with European space industry in recent years. In view of the potential, European space companies are very interested in forging long-term alliances with Russian companies. ESA’s objective is to support these efforts by reducing administrative barriers and promoting a healthy business environment.

Possibilities for cooperation between Russia and Europe include: working together to bridge the digital divide, providing telecommunications equipment for the northern regions and technology such as large antennas and small space-borne platforms, and improving the telecommunications ground segment. Another area common to Russia and many western European countries is the provision of internet access to remote rural areas.

Europe also has a number of technologies that require in-orbit demonstration before they can be promoted to the telecommunications market. Russia offers unique possibilities to place such experiments on Russian satellites for common benefit. As an example, joint activities are ongoing for the development of large deployable structures. Another recent initiative is a joint study by ESA and the Russian Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications for the provision of satellite communication services for civil aircraft over arctic regions.

Last update: 12 May 2009

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