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Satellite Swarms - The Launch of Satellite Mega-Constellations for Global Connectivity


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With the global population now at 7.6 billion and less than 50% with any kind of internet access, we are about to witness a major technological initiative that will form a key part of what’s being dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Date and Time

18 January 2018 - 18:30-21:00


Luton, United Kingdom - icon_popup  (See map)


Organised by the UK - East:Beds & Herts local network. Contact Jonathan Higgins (jhiggins@theiet.org) for more information.

About this event

Within the next three years, the first tranche of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites will be launched to provide fast, cheap and ubiquitous connection to the internet accessible to even the poorest populations.

There are currently around 1500 active satellites in orbit around the Earth, but this new phase in communications evolution will potentially more than quadruple this number within the next 5 - 10 years. The first of these new satellite constellations is due to be in-service by 2019.

This lecture will explain the background to this new era in communications technology, and detail some of the technology plans that are already actively being developed and implemented. With the evolution of the Internet of Things, billions of devices are also going to need to communicate across the globe, and the development of terrestrial communication systems such as 5G will also require inter-connection around the planet.

The current landscape of satellite communications will be contrasted with what is coming, and the billions of dollars that are being invested in this new technological wave. Many of the major technology players in the world – Google, Facebook, Airbus, Hughes, Elon Musk (SpaceX & Tesla) as well as some less obvious names as Virgin and Coca-Cola – are all pouring money into ventures which will make the world so much more connected and the heavens above us that much more crowded than they currently are.

But how will these players all achieve their stated goals? – and on the back of seemingly philanthropic ventures make a few bucks along the way? And do we risk escalating the pollution of the Earth out into space?


1830-1900  Registration; networking with refreshments
1900-2015  Lecture
2015-2100  Q&A

Reasons to attend

  • Access to the internet is widely regarded as an inherent requirement for any developed or developing society
  • Learn how broadband access will reach every part of the globe in order to bring benefits to all citizens of the world, and will form a key part of what’s being dubbed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ - this represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies
  • The use of satellite mega-constellations promises to bring great benefits for mankind – but potentially some significant threats as well

Continuing Professional Development

CPD logo declaring this event can contribute 2 hours towards your Continuing Professional Development

This event can contribute towards your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as part of the IET's CPD monitoring scheme.

CPD Certificates (if required) are available after the event upon request from our Secretary, Mr Ian Brooker (ibrooker@theiet.org).


Free of Charge

Additional information

Speaker: Jonathan Higgins CEng MIET, Director, BeaconSeek Ltd.
Jonathan is an independent consultant with several decades of experience in satellite communications. After having spent over twenty years with the BBC in engineering and management, he formed his own company to further develop his interest in satellite communications and ground-station technology. As well as designing, installing  and maintaining satellite-ground systems and networks for a range of applications, he regularly runs vocational training courses on aspects of satellite communications for a number of companies, and is an author with two published books to his name - “Satellite Newsgathering” (2000 & 2007) and “Introduction to SNG & ENG Microwave” (2003). Over the years he has written numerous technical articles for trade publications and given many presentations to international conferences in the field.

He also happens currently to be the Chair of the IET Beds & Herts Local Network, and a member of the Executive of the IET’s Satellite Systems & Applications Technical and Professional Network (TPN).

Registration information

Please register for this event if you intend to come.
This event is organised by the IET Beds & Herts Local Network as part of our 2017-18 program. 


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