A visualization shows an Astranis satellite over Peru in orbit.
Astranis, a San Francisco-based company with an alternative approach to providing internet access from satellites, on Wednesday announced a deal that would bring broadband to millions of people in Peru in two years.
The company’s agreement, which it says is worth over $90 million, with Latin American service provider Grupo Andesat will see Astranis deploy one of its small form factor satellites specifically for Peru.
“This first satellite, which will go into service in 2023, will light up about about 1,000 cell sites and provide broadband internet to approximately three million people across the country,” Astranis CEO John Gedmark told CNBC.
“This is the first time that the people of Peru have had their very own dedicated satellite,” Gedmark added.
The Astranis deal with Andesat includes an option for a second satellite under the same terms, which Gedmark noted could be deployed as early as 2024. Gedmark emphasized that Astranis’ satellite will deliver broadband service to many locations for the first time, and upgrade current 2G service in others.
“This capacity is primarily used for cell backhaul – meaning our satellite is being used to connect cell towers so individual users in Peru are going to be getting 4G broadband internet on their cell phones,” Gedmark said. “It’s a total game changer.”
A cell tower in Peru
Astranis’ is one of a number of next generation broadband satellite systems in development, as companies race to meet a growing global demand for data – including SpaceX’s Starlink, British-owned OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, satellite-to-smartphone specialist AST SpaceMobile, Lockheed Martin’s partnership with start-up Omnispace and Canadian satellite operator Telesat’s Lightspeed.
But unlike the low Earth orbit focus of other companies, Astranis’ approach features a small form factor satellite combined with proprietary technology and placed in geosynchronous orbit, the operating location of existing players like Viasat. Astranis launched a prototype in 2018 and is now finishing work on its first commercial satellite, set to launch next year and provide service to Alaska.
Gedmark emphasized that the world’s “demand for data is effectively unlimited,” creating far more demand than there is supply from satellite internet services. Astranis sees this Andesat deal “as a model we can replicated across Latin America,” Gedmark said.
“Giving the people of these countries their very own satellite assets for the very first time, and with that comes a huge amount of capacity at very low cost,” Gedmark said.