Satellite Map in Latin America 2023 - Credit: © 2023 Convergencialatina
Software and artificial intelligence are being used more and more to improve and enrich space services, and above all, they are enabling systems to evolve in the course of their life cycle. Heavy use of software-enabled systems, software-defined payloads, and software-defined satellites is anticipated in the satellite sector. Among the market signals about this trend, Rivada Networks, which plans a fleet of 300 satellites in LEO, selected Spacetime's software orchestration platform; Iridium Next, built by Thales Alenia Space, is entirely software-based; and Intelsat will use Kratos' OpenSpace platform to instantly enable new services.
These developments will in turn be crucial for the management of multi-orbit fleets, already under construction based on real games of alliances between operators. In these schemes, GEO provides greater capacity for congested areas, while LEO offers reduced latency and coverage, in the case of OneWeb, for example, from pole to pole. Eutelsat-OneWeb merger agreement is part of this trend; as well as Intelsat's approaches to OneWeb and Eutelsat, for flight service agreements and connectivity in Europe; and Viasat's purchase of Inmarsat.
This last consolidation operation was completed on May 30, 2023, and gives rise to an operator with 19 satellites, capacity in Ka, L and S bands, and the possibility of entering LEO through the Orchestra project (from Inmarsat). One of the fields where Viasat could also play now is Direct-to-Device (communications between satellites and smartphones): at the end of 2022 a kind of "space race" began in this sense, with the launch of Apple`s iPhone 14, which will be able to connect to Globalstar satellites. Beyond numerous agreements announced in recent months, the success of D2D business, particularly for emergencies or remote sites, will depend on works on standards for interoperability.
In the course of 2022 and 2023 up to now, the availability of services in the Ka band was expanded over Latin America, and offers in low orbit were activated by Starlink. In relation to the Ka band, Amazonas Nexus, from Hispasat, was launched; as well as Viasat 3, from Viasat; the commissioning of SES-17 of SES; and Intelsat Galaxy 30, 31 and 36. These new satellites will be joined by Hughes' Jupiter 3, in the third quarter of 2023. And for 2023 and 2024, two Small Sats built by Astranis are planned, operated by Andesat and Orbith.
Starlink began operations in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, and will continue to activate services in Latin America during 2023 and 2024. With around one million subscribers worldwide (data as of March 2023), Elon Musk's firm is now focused on investing in intersatellite links for new launches, and planning "Gen2 Starlink", its second generation of satellites. OneWeb also has an upcoming “Gen2” in the pipeline as it kicks off the initial generation offering in the Americas. In the remainder of the first semester, its constellation of 588 satellites will cover from the 25th parallel to the south (that is, part of the United States, Argentina and Chile), and in August, all of Mexico, Argentina and Chile. In December 2023, it plans to complete coverage for all of Latin America. Meanwhile, work is underway to obtain licenses and partnerships with distribution partners, including Telespazio and Eutelsat.