Kepler teams up with Cobham SATCOM for OPEX satcom packages

The research vessel Polarstern is currently trialling the Kepler system in the Arctic using two Sea Tel antennas

Nanosatellite company Kepler Communications has agreed a new strategic partnership with Cobham SATCOM, which will allow potential customers of Kepler’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satcom network to run a fully managed trial of the service on Cobham hardware on a purely OPEX basis.

The two firms have confirmed that Cobham SATCOM’s full range of SAILOR and Sea Tel antenna systems are capable of being adapted to track LEO satellites, with a field trial of two augmented Sea Tel antennas on board the Polarstern research vessel currently underway. The system is being tested in the central Arctic and has demonstrated up to 40 Mbps downlink and 120 Mbps uplink. 

Going forward, the partnership aims to offer ‘User Terminal-as-a-Service’ (UTaaS) packages to connect to the Kepler service, shifting equipment costs to a monthly operational fee rather than a one-time capital expense, and embedding installation, support and maintenance service costs into that monthly payment. 

“Proven, reliable ground segment is a critical piece for delivering wideband services from LEO,” said Jeffrey Osborne, Co-founder and VP of Business Development at Kepler.

“The cost of today’s tracking antennas as well as the complexity of coordinating setup, installation and support are understandable roadblocks for those wishing to test drive our Global Data Service. At Kepler our goal is to deliver the most frictionless customer experience possible so that anyone with a potential use case for this ground-breaking capability can simply say ‘yes’ and keep their focus on the really important elements of their application.”

“Our partnership with Cobham enables us to create exactly that experience where we can scalably execute demonstrations anywhere on the planet all for a manageable monthly OPEX fee that includes hardware, setup, support, and airtime.” 

Kepler currently has two Ku-band satellites into orbit as it proceeds with plans to begin introducing its Gen 1 satellites for its Global Data Service (GDS) programme in 2020, with the ultimate aim of providing high speed data connectivity on a global basis.

“Kepler’s creative approach is unique for our industry,” said Matt Galston, Sr. Director Global Market Strategy & Development, Cobham SATCOM.

“By starting with a small number of satellites in operation, they are able to focus more directly on solving problems for the end-user. Our collaboration demonstrates how some solutions come through partnerships, new commercial models, and a shared goal of delighting end users while being able to scale that delight to many more in the future. It’s exciting to be a part of this journey, and we are confident Kepler’s future is very bright.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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