TAMPA, Florida – Cellular link provider Andesat has ordered Peru’s first dedicated telecommunications satellite under a deal with Atranis, which will build a teleport in the country ahead of the spacecraft’s scheduled launch in 2023.
The contract is worth more than $ 90 million over the eight-year life of the Andesat-1 satellite. It includes an option for a second satellite which could be launched as early as 2024 to provide additional bandwidth.
San Francisco-based startup Atranis is building a business around satellites which, at 400 kilograms, are much smaller than traditional geostationary orbit (GEO) spacecraft, sized to provide smaller geographic areas with dedicated bandwidth. cheaper.
US telecommunications company Pacific Dataport Inc (PDI), Atranis’ first commercial customer, is counting down SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch of its Arcturus satellite in the spring to provide Internet service across Alaska.
Atranis builds and secures the launch of the satellites it is developing, providing the capacity through long-term leases.
Andesat plans to use Andesat-1 to expand internet access in remote areas of Peru, while upgrading the country’s cellular services from 2G to 4G.
More than eight million people in Peru live in rural communities without high-speed internet access, according to Andesat, which said that Andesat-1 would allow around three million Peruvians to access affordable 4G service for the first time on the Internet. their mobile devices.
About one hundred of the thousand cell towers Andesat-1 aims to connect are already operational and will be upgraded to 5G-capable 4G services, while the rest must be built from scratch.
Andesat CEO Pablo Rasore said News that the company plans to operate 500 cell towers by 2023. At a rate of 50 to 80 sites per month, he said, the company expects to meet its target of 1,000 sites one year after the launch of Andesat-1.
“Sixty percent of the country has no roads, and that’s why there are dispersed populations who need services but they don’t,” Rasore said.
Three mountain ranges and the Amazon rainforest make connecting cell towers over land difficult and expensive.
Andesat has purchased capacity from satellite operators, including Intelsat, Eutelsat, SES and Telesat, to connect these sites; However, Rasore said demand is growing at a rate that makes this business model uncompetitive.
“If consumer demand continues to grow as it is, I think two satellites will be just the start,” Rasore added.
Andesat says it started operations as a wholesale satellite service provider in Chile in July 2010, and also has operations in Argentina and Ecuador, with plans to expand into Paraguay and Bolivia.
Atranis is looking for one more customer for the second batch
Atranis is also building two satellites for US in-flight connectivity specialist Anuvu, targeting the service in early 2023, which recently got $ 50 million for the deployment plans for a total of eight satellites.
Astranis CEO John Gedmark said the company is building four “block two” satellites: two for Anuvu, one for Andesat and one that has yet to find a customer. He described PDI’s Arcturus as a block one satellite.
“We have several interested parties for this fourth satellite” under block two, said Gedmark News in a separate interview.
So far, companies ordering Atranis satellites have already purchased capacity from other satellite operators.
While they still lease capacity through Atranis, the startup’s business model offers them longer-term contracts, with increased bandwidth that may be better suited to their needs.
“It’s just not a model that existed before,” Gedmark said.
“We are seeing a demand for this in countries around the world. Also Fortune 1000 companies who would like to have their own dedicated satellite assets. ”
He declined to disclose further financial details of his satellites.
When Astranis announced Project Alaska in 2019, the company said the deal was worth several tens of millions of dollars.
For Peru, Gedmark said Atranis “is investing millions of dollars” to build a gateway, a first for the company.
Andesat already has a teleport in Peru, in addition to one in Argentina and Chile, and will be responsible for ongoing ground operations once construction of Atranis is complete.