Intelsat, which is set to emerge from bankruptcy protection this year, arranged the purchase of two satellites from Thales Alenia Space to support its aim to provide 5G services from space.

The US-based satellite service provider signed an agreement with the joint venture company of Thales and Leonardo to build the geostationary orbit satellites.

Intelsat 41 and Intelsat 44 (IS-41 and IS-44, respectively) are scheduled to be in service in 2025 and will complement two Airbus-built satellites, IS-42 and IS-43, which were announced in January 2021.

IS-41 and IS-44 will provide capacity over Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia for commercial and government mobile services, and backhaul.

Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler stated the latest satellites will enable it to “blanket the earth” with software-defined satellites, “progressing the world’s first global 5G software-defined network, designed to unify the global telecoms ecosystem”.

Crowded skies
Several companies are pursuing space-based connectivity. For example, aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin is also developing a satellite-based 5G system to supplement terrestrial coverage, after teaming with start-up Omnispace.

In January 2021, OneWeb secured $400 million in additional investment from Hughes Network Systems and SoftBank Group, and is targeting completion of its first full commercial fleet this year.

Vodafone Group-backed AST SpaceMobile plans to begin offering mobile service from its network of satellites in 2023, while Russian operator MegaFon is exploring options to close coverage gaps.