LEO satellites could offer potential solution to Irish National Broadband Plan

Generic and unrelated image of satellite

Low Earth orbit satellites have the potential to provide broadband at gigabit speed globally, and they could also play a role in Ireland’s National Broadband Plan.

This potential use of LEO satellites will be discussed at the it@cork tech talk series at 7:30am, Thursday, June 20, in the IMI offices at 1 Lapp’s Quay, Cork.

LEO satellites are an emerging disruptor in global internet communications. This technology is now progressing rapidly.

Several companies have launched LEO satellites for testing; Elon Musk’s Space X launched 60 LEO satellites in May. The intent is to commercially offer services in the US next year. There are ten such projects in development, including Kuiper, by Blue Origin, led by Jeff Bezos; and Telesat, which is backed by Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

The it@cork talk will explain this technology’s potential for global connectivity. The talk will also consider what effect LEO satellites might have in Ireland, especially in the context of the National Broadband Plan.

Eoghan O’Mahony, it@cork

cluster manager, said: “Our tech talks aim to leverage experts to bring very technical topics to light for the people of Cork, in plain English. This talk promises to cover a most controversial topic and we’re delighted to have a most distinguished expert speaker to distil it for us.”

The talk will be delivered by Dr Niall Smith, CIT’s head of research and head of CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, who studied astrophysics at UCD and graduated with his PhD in 1990. He lectured in the Department of Applied Physics & Instrumentation in CIT for 18 years, before becoming the institute’s first head of research, in 2005, with oversight of a budget of €14m per annum across disciplines, from science and engineering to arts and music.

Dr Smith is the founder-director of Blackrock Castle Observatory, which has just celebrated its 12th anniversary and which has had 1.2m visitors. In 2017, he was the host director for the International Space University Space Studies Programme, which is the largest conference programme ever to come to Cork, lasting nine weeks and involving 320 global space experts.

Dr Smith’s research focuses on space topics, including uses of small satellites in low Earth orbit for a wide range of functions, from imaging to broadband. He is a member of the national steering group for the soon-to-be published Space Strategy for Enterprise.

For tickets to the event, see here. For Niall Smith’s recent analysis article for the Irish Examiner, see here

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