The UK government has unveiled a comprehensive plan to bolster the development of satellite communications across the nation through a funding scheme called Connectivity in Low Earth Orbit (CLEO). This ambitious programme is poised to lend significant support to researchers and innovators within the satellite communication landscape, expediting the creation of new satellite constellations.

“An initial sum of £100 million, supplemented by an extra £60 million from the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme from the European Space Agency (ESA), is being considered for this initiative,” said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of Science and Technology.

There’s a distinct focus on Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations within this scheme. These are noted to be more robust compared to terrestrial infrastructure and are designed to deliver comprehensive global coverage upon full completion. There’s also a hopeful tone echoing from the government quarters that the progress of LEO technology could end the lingering digital divide in the UK by bringing unwavering connectivity to its most remote terrains.

The fund also promises to stimulate the economy and generate skilled jobs, supporting the National Space Council’s objective of elevating the UK to the status of a ‘legitimate space powerhouse.’

Michelle Donelan believes that “investing in the critical research and development facilitated through CLEO could aid in levelling up our country, all the while proliferating the economy through high-quality jobs and battling the digital divide.”

Harshbir Sangha, Director of Missions and Capabilities Delivery at the UK Space Agency, shares this sentiment and sees this as a crucial step towards the realization of one of the agency’s key goal – “to tap into the potential of low Earth orbit and emerge as an international frontrunner in satellite communications technologies.”

However, the kickoff of this scheme is contingent upon regular approval processes, and further details are expected to be disseminated during a webinar organized by the UK Space Agency on 10th August.

Other telecom buzz around the globe includes 1&1 shifting its allegiance from Telefónica to Vodafone on a 5G roaming deal, e& eyeing a 20% expansion in its Vodafone stake, and Vodafone exploring deploying AWS edge technology in Spain.