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Satellite Swarms

Update on the Launch of the Satellite Mega-Constellations for Global Broadband Access

The first tranche of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites are being launched to provide a fast, cheap and ubiquitous connection to the internet, accessible to even the poorest populations.  There are currently around 2000 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.

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 are also going to need to inter-connect around the planet.

The current landscape of satellite communications will be contrasted with what is coming, and the tens of billions of dollars that are being invested in this new technological wave as we speak. Many of the major technology players in the world – Google, 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 so much more crowded than they currently are.

But can 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 extending the pollution of Earth further out into space? 

Finally, the World Economic Forum has warned that a hyper-connected world, when combined with rising inequality, could lead to fragmentation, segregation and social unrest.


Continuing Professional Development

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


19 Feb 2020

6:30pm - 9:00pm

Add to Calendar 02/19/2020 18:30 02/19/2020 21:00 Satellite Swarms With the world’s population now at 7.6 billion and with only around 50% with any kind of internet access, we’re undergoing a major technological initiative that will form a key part of what’s being dubbed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution.’ Hitchin Road, Luton LU2 8LE, UK


Beds and Herts Local Network

Registration Information

This event is organised by the IET Beds & Herts Local Network as part of our 2020 program.


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


Jonathan Higgins

Jonathan Higgins

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 BeaconSeek 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 currently happens to be the Chair of the IET Beds & Herts Local Network.


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’ 
  • The use of satellite mega-constellations promises to bring great benefits for mankind – but potentially some significant threats as well
  • This lecture was first presented in 2018 - this is an update to the situation two years on.


University of Bedfordshire - Putteridge Bury Conference Centre

Hitchin Road
United Kingdom

Ample car parking available


1830  Networking & Refreshments

1900  Lecture starts

2000  Lecture finishes, followed by Q&A

2100  Event finishes


Free Ticket


Register to Attend