In Business Model, Internet Access, Spectrum Futures Conference

Some of what LeoSat CEO Vern Fotheringham will talk about at Spectrum Futures depends on what happens over the next several months.

LeoSat plans to launch a new constellation of 80 or more low earth orbit satellites to provide high-throughput Internet access covering every square inch of the earth, with 16 spares for each of five planes.

“Possibly in September we can talk about vendor selection for bus and payload,” said Fotheringham.

Aspirationally, LeoSat is targeting December 2018 for first launch of the initial constellation of eight satellites, in two planes, with four birds each.

Of course, as Fotheringham would readily agree, launching in 2018 requires that everything goes perfectly between now and then. That first constellation would allow LeoSat to test all features in the actual commercial setting, and prepare the way to to launch the full constellation, covering five planes, over two years.

LeoSat does believe it will have appeal for three major reasons. It is focusing on high capacity, industrial grade services for the 3,000 largest companies on the face of the earth, with Internet speeds ranging from 50 Mbps on the low end to 1.2 Gbps on the high end.

LeoSat also will offer ubiquity, with coverage of every square inch of the earth’s surface, says Fotheringham.

LeoSat service also will be quite secure, the company argues.

LeoSat will operate using its own gateways, with no ground infrastructure from point A to point B, and no use of third party facilities, as traffic is relayed from satellite to satellite on the entire backhaul.

LeoSat, which plans to launch a new constellation of 80 or more low earth orbit satellites to provide high-throughput Internet access covering every square inch of the earth, thinks its wholesale business model and high bandwidth makes it a potential partner for virtually every other satellite capacity supplier or retailer, aside from the core markets it has identified.

For starters, LeoSat is focusing exclusively on wholesale capacity for business customers, not the consumer business and not business segment retail.

“We wouldn’t compete with anybody in the current milieu,” says Fotheringham. “Our lowest service tier begins where traditional satellite ends.”

The lowest tier of service offers 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps of Internet connectivity. The middle range offers 100 Mbps to 500 Mbps while the top tier supports 500 Mbps up to 1.2 Gbps.

“We do what they cannot,” Fotheringham says of the comparison with legacy satellite services. So he believes LeoSat will have “many chances to align with incumbents who are delivery partners.”

Strictly focused on business-to-business customers, LeoSat’s primary focus will be delivering “ industrial-grade communications to major organizations,” both commercial and government, says Fotheringham.

In fact, even early on, when its first satellites are launched, LeoSat sees “some very interesting opportunities for early-entry strategies, where with a single plane you can get 24/7 coverage in the high and low latitudes, where we find big gaps in infrastructure with not a whole lot of people but very high-value people with high-value requirements.”

One shorthand description might be that LeoSat sees its target market as the biggest 3,000 companies in the world. The segments of those customer requirements that make the most sense are mission-critical and high bandwidth Internet communications in locations where such bandwidth is hard to secure.

That logically could include exploration, scientific or extraction operations. LeoSat would offer lots of bandwidth to users from big firms that have high requirements, in places where capacity is sorely lacking, and high ability to pay for quality connections.

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