The European Commission is targeting a mega-constellation of satellites to offer broadband connectivity in an initial capacity by 2024.
The aim of the project is to provide stronger broadband to more remote areas where quick internet is not as readily available, however suggestions have also been made that it could be utilised to power self-driving cars in the future.
What is happening now
A consortium of aerospace and telecoms companies are working on the potential scope and opportunity that this concept provides.
The EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton is keen to see the idea come to fruition:
‘My objective is to go fast. And therefore, it would be appropriate that the Commission puts forward this year a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council so we can move concretely.’ he said to the 13th European Space Conference on January the 12th.
The Commissioner went on to discuss the research being undertaken:
‘We launched a few weeks ago a study on a secure space-based connectivity system. The selected consortium consisting of European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telco operators and launch service providers will study the possible design and development of this project.’
The support shown by the European Commission is clear and this is cause for excitement for those all across Europe struggling for good internet connectivity.
What we already have
In the UK, space connectivity is already available in a limited capacity through Elon Musk’s company Starlink. However, while this exciting new prospect could be the answer for those in remote areas, it doesn’t come cheap.
A price tag of £439 has been placed on the initial equipment and installation with a further £84 a month to receive Starlink’s broadband, making it a fairly impractical service at this moment in time.
Space X, Musk’s space exploration business, has already launched 800 satellites and aims to have 12,00 in space by 2026, meaning that this is just the beginning for Starlink in the UK and that this is a sector which is only ramping up.
What is to come
The mega-constellation being pushed for is the next big space mission to come out of Europe and is being touted as a must have for Europe to remain competitive with America, India and the rest of the world.
It is believed that the cost would be in the billions of Euros and a mixture of private and public funding would be necessary for the scheme to go ahead. However, we will have to wait for the consortium’s report to come back in the Spring before we know more.