WASHINGTON — Astranis, a startup designing small geostationary satellites for internet connectivity, has signed an Alaskan telecommunications provider as its first customer.
Pacific Dataport Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, will lease capacity on the satellite through a long-term contract worth “tens of millions of dollars,” Astranis CEO John Gedmark said in an interview. Astranis will own and operate the satellite.
The satellite, so far unnamed, will cover the entire state of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, with Ka-band connectivity for broadband, according to officials from Astranis and Pacific Dataport.
Gedmark said the satellite’s design calls for a mass of 300 kilograms — substantially smaller than typical geostationary satellites weighing several thousand kilograms, but still enough to provide meaningful capacity. Astranis will build the satellite in preparation for a launch in the second half of 2020, he said.
Astranis and Pacific Dataport said the satellite’s 7.5 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput will more than triple the amount of satellite capacity available to Alaskans.
“We just couldn’t take it anymore,” said Chuck Schumann, founder of Pacific Dataport and its largest shareholder Microcom. “Everyone would talk about solving broadband in countries around the world, focusing on Africa, South ...