How Technology Enhances High-Speed Satellite Connectivity

British electronics specialist Filtronic is making significant advancements in the development of technology that will revolutionize satellite constellations and provide high-speed broadband internet coverage. With the support of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Space Agency, Filtronic is working on spacefaring hardware that aims to establish fast and high-capacity links between low Earth orbiting communications satellites and receiving ground stations.

This groundbreaking project forms part of ESA’s efforts to advance the digital transformation of society and industry through the deployment of 5G networks. Low Earth orbit constellations play a vital role in next-generation 5G and 6G converged networks by enhancing communications infrastructure on the ground and ensuring continuous, instant, and ubiquitous connectivity. Telecommunications satellites enable connectivity by receiving and transmitting data via radio waves, with different parts of the radio spectrum offering varying capabilities in terms of speed, data volumes, and bandwidth.

Filtronic’s technology operates over extremely high-frequency bands, known as millimeter waves, which provide wide bandwidths, high data rates, and low latencies over localized areas. As the 5G digital transformation continues, the adoption of this frequency range is gaining momentum due to its ability to facilitate essential applications such as autonomous transport, the internet of things, and industrial automation. Filtronic has already established an impressive track record in developing millimeter wave products for terrestrial communications.

By collaborating with Filtronic, ESA’s contract is expected to create numerous commercial opportunities within the space industry. These opportunities include more efficient production processes and the development of spin-off technologies. The contract falls under ESA’s Space for 5G and 6G Programme and aligns with its Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program, which aims to promote commercial innovation and reinforce European and Canadian leadership in the highly competitive global satellite communications marketplace.

Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, emphasizes the importance of innovations in satellite communications, stating that they have become an economic engine for the global space sector. He praises Filtronic’s products for addressing major challenges, such as emerging telecoms’ bandwidth requirements, and highlights how the UK is excelling in this area, enhancing services that improve our lives and contribute to the growth of the satellite communications and wider space sector.

Antonio Franchi, Head of ESA’s 5G/6G Programme, expresses pride in partnering with Filtronic on a project that will leverage the company’s commercial capabilities to advance the digital transformation of society and industry. This progress will be achieved through the development of hybrid satellite 5G networks.

Tudor Williams, Director of Technology at Filtronic, explains that the company has already developed various technologies and products for millimeter wave bands. This new contract allows them to focus their core technology on the low Earth orbit market. Satellite operators are increasingly turning to frequencies that offer ultra-high bandwidth data links, and Filtronic’s unique position enables them to adapt existing products, manufactured in commercial volumes, to meet the specific requirements of space.

Fabrizio De Paolis, 5G/6G Implementation Manager at ESA, expresses enthusiasm about Filtronic’s capability to deliver this contract. Their in-house design and manufacturing capability is unparalleled in the UK, and through ESA’s ARTES program, they are delighted to partner with Filtronic to establish a leading position in this exciting and rapidly expanding sector.

Filtronic’s advancements in satellite communication technology hold great promise for the future. With their expertise and support from ESA and the UK Space Agency, they are poised to revolutionize satellite constellations and provide high-speed broadband internet coverage on a global scale. The development of these advanced technologies not only enhances connectivity but also has far-reaching implications for various industries, including autonomous transport, the internet of things, and industrial automation. Filtronic’s groundbreaking work is evidence of the UK’s leadership in the space sector and its commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation.