CNES, the space agency based in France has agreed a contract with Thales Alenia Space and STMicroelectronics to produce new low-priced chipsets to be used in end-user terminals seeking satellite-based broadband. “Astragan” – the nickname of the new chip – will enable 10mbps download speeds.
Thales and STM have both contributed approximately 30 million Euros to the contract whose total value is 7.5 million Euros. PIA (Programme for Investing in the Future} is the France-based government backed fund that is bankrolling the CNES cash. The project is indicative of a perceived requirement for Europe to forge ahead into broadband that is satellite based, and to provide a European alternative to the other two USA-based systems currently in European operation. (Hughes Network Systems and ViaSat of California)