. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Gets Satellite Service for Just $2M

Kosmicheskaya Svyaz and a Belgian-Canadian company are developing a satellite system to deliver data to all of Russia's regions at the bargain price of $2 million.

SpaceChecker specializes in producing high performance two-way satellite data systems that are operated through a geo-stationary satellite network. The company developed the European satellite modem, a mobile satellite terminal used for data transfer, for only $500.

SpaceChecker owns a ground-based satellite station and a control center for data processing in Belgium and is involved in a pilot project to launch SDS in Europe in cooperation with the European Space Agency.

The company began expanding its project to include Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States in February 2001 and signed a contract to rent part of Kosmicheskaya Svyaz's volume, said Boris Antonyuk, general director of Kosmicheskaya Svyaz.

But SpaceChecker has only started testing now because it has taken almost a year for the Communications Ministry's committee on radio frequencies to issue the necessary bandwidth. Furthermore, SpaceChecker needed to reprogram its modem completely to adapt to working with Russian satellites and make it compatible with Russia's GLONASS navigation system.

The Communications Ministry has given the go-ahead on four satellites, which are to be tested in May and June. Kosmicheskaya Svyaz has an agreement with the Russian postal service to test the modems on mail delivery trucks, Antonyuk said.

The trucks will send coordinates and information to the Belgian control center.

"You have no idea how often trucks get lost on Russian roads," Antonyuk said, explaining his selection of the postal service as their guinea pig.

After testing is completed, SpaceChecker and Kosmicheskaya Svyaz plan to create a joint venture to commercialize the satellite data system. A control center is to be built on the basis of an existing Kosmicheskaya Svyaz station in Vladimir, central Russia.

In the first stage of development, the Russian company plans to buy 1,500 mobile terminals out of a total 50,000, which should allow SDS to cover the most remote areas of the country.

SpaceChecker general director Wim De Peuter said the project has drawn interest from European and Russian transport and insurance companies.

"SDS could be used by such government organizations as the Communications Ministry, the Railways Ministry, the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Nuclear Power Ministry," he said.

SpaceChecker is investing the $2 million into building the ground infrastructure and adapting the modems, De Peuter said. "No more spending is necessary because the technology has already been worked through and is very cheap," he said, adding that the project will pay for itself in one to two years.

Kosmicheskaya Svyaz will not make any investment other than equipment, Antonyuk said.