Telesat and ThinKom Solutions, Inc. announced an expanded development partnership to certify ThinKom’s ThinAir® Ka2517 antenna for the Telesat Lightspeed low earth orbit (LEO) satellite network.

The multi-year agreement calls for the organizations to cooperate on the integration and certification of the Ka2517 antenna with an airborne modem to enable communications across the Telesat Lightspeed Ka-Band LEO network.

“ThinKom is keen to extend its position as the proven leader in airborne, multi-constellation, multi-orbit satellite terminal technology,” said Bill Milroy, ThinKom’s chief technical officer (CTO) and co-founder. “We bring exactly what it takes, in terms of spectral efficiency, scan volume, and rigorous regulatory compliance, in order to fully unlock the unique constellation characteristics and advantages of the Telesat Lightspeed network. We are indeed eager to see airlines and their passengers benefit from the addition of this high-throughput, low latency global network.”

Telesat estimates that its enterprise-class constellation, paired with the Ka2517 antenna, will deliver over 1 Gbps to the aircraft. Telesat Lightspeed can dynamically allocate multiple-Gbps of capacity to areas with high demand, such as congested airport hubs or busy flight routes. This level of connectivity enables robust gate-to-gate, real-time communications for a superior inflight connectivity experience.

ThinKom and Telesat have been formally cooperating on terminal development since the 2021 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding– which included validating the Ka2517’s ability to seamlessly switch between satellites across multiple orbital planes. With the Telesat Lightspeed satellite manufacturing program now underway, satellite launches are scheduled to begin in 2026, with Ka2517 certification expected to be finalized before global service availability, scheduled to commence in 2027.

Over 800 ThinAir terminals will be deployed on commercial aircraft by the end of ‘24 with the capability to seamlessly add the Telesat Lightspeed network to their supported communications pathways. As the terminal of choice for the Airbus HBCplus Ka-band linefit program, ThinKom anticipates installation of the Ka2517 on up to one thousand more aircraft between now and activation of Telesat Lightspeed services. Additionally, ThinKom is pursuing direct linefit with Boeing, which will enable hundreds of additional Ka2517 installations.

“Airlines now have the ability to future-proof their inflight connectivity hardware investments when they select ThinKom’s proven, high performance Ka2517 antenna,” stated Dave Wendling, Telesat’s CTO. “With a relatively simple modem kit installation, airlines will be able to seamlessly access or transition to Telesat Lightspeed connectivity for ubiquitous coverage and unsurpassed service.”