With Elon Musk’s Skylink constellation set to take the lead in a market that UK government-backed OneWeb wants a slice of, the European Union (EU) has revealed itself as the next on the launch pad for satellite-based broadband services.
Details of the bid have been revealed by the European Commission (EC), which has selected a consortium of European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telco operators and launch service providers to study the design, development and launch of a European-owned, space-based communication system.
The EC said the study would assess the feasibility of a new initiative aiming to strengthen European digital sovereignty and provide secure connectivity for citizens, commercial enterprises and public institutions, as well as providing global coverage for rural and “not-spot” areas.
Once it gets the green light, the new EU flagship programme would complement the existing Copernicus and Galileo craft and, said the EC, would “fully exploit” the synergies of the technological potential of the digital and space industries.
The European space-based connectivity system, advocated by internal market commissioner Thierry Breton, is intended to provide secure communication services to the EU and its member states as well as broadband connectivity for European citizens, companies and mobility sectors,