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Eutelsat OneWeb launches trial services with British Antarctic Survey

Eutelsat Group announces it has launched low Earth orbit services in Antarctica for British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a world-leading centre for polar science and polar operations.

Launched in January 2024, the service provides connectivity to the BAS operated Rothera Research Station in Antarctica. Communications and internet connectivity in Antarctica is currently limited to solutions offering at most 1-5 Mbps in both uplink and downlink, despite the significant number of crucial scientific research outposts in the region. Eutelsat OneWeb’s services will deliver significantly increased reliability and data-rates up to 120 Mbps.

In order to deliver services to the Antarctic region, Eutelsat OneWeb developed a proprietary system named TALARIA after the Latin word used to describe the ‘winged sandals’ of Mercury, God of communication. The innovative system includes a ground station in Chile along with a user terminal installed in Rothera Research Station 1,000 miles away. The technology will match the high data use needs of the scientific activities at the research outposts in Antarctica, along with the connectivity needs of the staff based at the stations.

The design of the TALARIA system was made possible thanks to the support of the European Space Agency (ESA) Sunrise Partnership Project as well as Comtech Telecommunications Corp. and Cobham Satcom, our partners for the development and implementation of the ground infrastructure solution.

Consistent high-speed, low latency connectivity has the potential to totally transform the activity at the stations and in the wider Antarctic region, for example by allowing scientists to better conduct their day-to-day activities by facilitating real-time support from scientific, technical or health teams around the world. It will also provide vital connectivity to help improve the welfare of the scientists, outside of working hours, as they are often deployed for 18 months at a time in one of the remotest and geographically challenging areas of the world.

Julius Rix, Head of Engineering at British Antarctic Survey, said, “We’re excited to see how using Eutelsat OneWeb will change the connectivity for living and working at Rothera Research Station. Knowing we have such an increase in bandwidth is a gamechanger for our communications connectivity, allowing transfer of big data files and giving us the opportunity to do live broadcast interviews from one of the remotest places on Earth. This has the potential to change the way we work and the type of science we can carry out.

Maurizio Vanotti, VP for Commercial Strategy and Innovation,Eutelsat OneWeb, said,“With communications and internet connectivity limited in Antarctica, this trial in the region is a testament to our commitment to facilitating global connectivity in the most unconnected regions of the world. We look forward to continuing our work with the British Antarctic Survey and expanding our coverage of Antarctica, to demonstrate LEO’s power to extend beyond the geographical constraints of traditional connectivity and unlock new opportunities.”

“The TALARIA system is an innovation to deliver dramatically increased bandwidth using LEO connectivity for the very hardest to reach parts of the world. Valery Gineste, VP of Technology & Innovation at Eutelsat OneWeb said, ” This has been an exciting opportunity to create an entirely new remote connectivity system for Antarctica from concept to delivery inside 18 months.”

Stephane Lascar Head of Satellite Programmes Department in Connectivity and Secure Communications Directorate at ESA said: “We are delighted to be part of this unique demonstration of connectivity in a remote area such as Antarctica. At ESA, in collaboration with Eutelsat OneWeb through the Sunrise Partnership Project, we aim to offer connectivity and beyond not only to businesses but also to scientific communities and other users, to benefit from the best of the technologies. As ever, innovation is vital, and we support European space companies to succeed in the highly competitive global market for telecommunications satellites.”

“We are thrilled to work with Eutelsat OneWeb to deliver connectivity in some of the world’s most challenging geographic regions like the Antarctic,” said John Ratigan, Interim CEO, Comtech. “To enable this first-ever demonstration, Comtech delivered its market leading ELEVATE baseband and RF solution to support resilient, high-speed connectivity over OneWeb’s LEO satellite constellation. Comtech’s ELEVATE solution is a transportable, software defined VSAT system, which is proven to provide commercial and government customers with access high-speed connectivity across diverse satellite constellations in multiple orbits.”

“We are proud to support the TALARIA project, and to play a part in helping Eutelsat OneWeb to adapt and demonstrate the value of its network”, noted Chris Schram, Cobham Senior Director of Business Development. “Our compact, radome-protected 2.4m TRACKER Gateways performed flawlessly in challenging conditions, and exemplary collaboration by the Eutelsat OneWeb team with their TALARIA technology partners enabled this fast-track project to bring reliable, high-speed connectivity to Antarctica.”

CT Bureau

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