Kymeta and Kepler team up to demonstrate satellite connectivity in Arctic deep freeze


Kymetas u8 terminal has its flat-panel antenna turned to the sky in the Canadian Arctic town of Inuvik. (Business Wire Photo)

Kymeta Corp. the hybrid connectivity venture thats based in Redmond, Wash. says it has demonstrated how its flat-panel antenna can hook up with Kepler Communications satellite constellation for high-speed data transfers under the chilliest of circumstances.

Its the latest team-up between Kymeta, which counts Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates among its backers; and Kepler, a Canadian space startup that graduated from the Techstars Seattle incubator program back in 2016.

Kepler is one of several companies that are putting satellites into low Earth orbit, or LEO a group that also includes SpaceX and OneWeb, plus Amazons yet-to-be-launched Project Kuiper constellation.

Those other companies are focusing on consumer and enterprise internet access. In contrast, Kepler is concentrating on satellite-based, high-capacity networking for smart devices that make use of the Internet of Things. One of its leading products is called the Global Data Service.

Over the past winter, Kepler put Kymetas next-generation u8 satellite-cellular data service to the test in the Canadian Arctic community of Inuvik, where temperatures can drop to tens of degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Today the two companies announced that the cold-weather test was a success. Uplink and downlink speeds averaged 100 megabits per second (Mbps), allowing for the transfer of more than 2 gigabytes of data with each satellite pass.

The performance of the Kymeta u8 with Keplers Global Data Service has exceeded our expectations. Wen Cheng Chong, Keplers chief technology officer and co-founder, said in a news release.

Our recent testing and development efforts demonstrated not only the ability to move many more gigabytes of data than expected with each pass, but also the u8s ability to operate in polar environments, where many of Keplers early adopters operate, he said.

Chong said satellite constellations in low Earth orbit need antennas that can track the satellite across the sky and switch to other satellites in the constellation near-instantaneously, which Kymeta is among the first to have successfully achieved.

David Harrover, Kymetas senior vice president of global sales, said the test will help his company set a course for future collaborations with multiple satellite mega-constellations. Many of our customers are interested in compatibility with LEO satellite services, and this testing helps ensure the longevity of the u8 and Kymeta Connect as well as offer a solution that takes advantage of the increased utility of LEO satellites, he said.

OneWeb has said Arctic regions will be among the first markets targeted, potentially by the end of this year. Its planning to have 36 of its satellites launched from Russias Vostochny Cosmodrome on Thursday.

Kymeta is in the process of increasing its capacity as well. Eight of its satellites were launched last month as part of SpaceXs Transporter-1 mission, with Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. providing logistical support.

A Russian Soyuz rocket sent another two Kepler satellites into orbit on Monday, boosting the companys active constellation to 15 satellites in all.

With Keplers recently increased capacity, the u8 can serve customers globally, pole-to-pole and all points in between, Chong said.

Keplers next satellite launch is scheduled for June, when temperatures in Inuvik are expected to get above a toasty 65 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).





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