Satellite communications provider SES now has a new satellite officially online and providing C-band broadcast and radio services across the U.S.
Once the satellite completes testing, the Luxembourg-based company will begin moving millions of customers over to the new satellite.
SES-20, which was launched into near-geosynchronous orbit alongside SES-21 by United Launch Alliance, is expected to be operational before the end of the year. Both satellites were built by aerospace company Boeing (NYSE: BA).
The satellites are part of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to clear C-band spectrum for 5G uses within the U.S. by Dec. 2023.
SES plans to launch five satellites in total in response to that directive, transitioning its existing customers to upper C-band frequencies without interrupting services. The first satellite in that constellation, SES-22, was built by French satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, launched by launch provider SpaceX in June and went online in August. Defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) is building SES-18 and SES-19.
With SES-22, SES-21 and SES-20 already on orbit, SES is about two months ahead of schedule.
“These three satellites allow us to proceed with the installation of filters that will protect our customers’ networks and clear the lower portion of the C-band spectrum. We’re probably two months ahead of where we expected to be and have direct line of sight to the $3 billion in clearing proceeds that we will earn as a result of successful second phase clearing,” SES Chief Executive Steve Collar said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last month.
SES receives two O3b satellites
Boeing over the weekend delivered to SES the first two O3b mPOWER communications satellites, which are set for launch later this month.
O3b mPOWER will split the difference between a traditional satcom constellation made up of a handful of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and a proliferated constellation made up of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). Located in medium Earth orbit, O3b mPOWER will comprise 11 satellites with shapeable beams that can be repositioned to meet the changing needs of its customers.
“The performance that we’ve measured on the ground is stunning and will transform our ability to deliver unique carrier-grade connectivity to a significantly expanded customer base,” Collar said.
SES selected Boeing to build all 11 initial O3b mPower satellites, and the company continues production on the nine-remaining spacecraft.
SES plans to begin services with a six-satellite constellation in Q3 2023.