Secure and robust satellite communications that can be rapidly deployed are key for governmental actors, especially when terrestrial network is compromised, there is lack of service coverage (e.g. in open-seas or Arctic regions) as well as to support humanitarian missions in hostile territories. To address this kind of challenges and shield its space autonomy, the European Union is ramping up preparations for the GOVSATCOM component. It is set to provide authorised governmental users with secure and cost-efficient communications capabilities.
‘’GOVSATCOM is a crucial pillar of the EU Space Programme. While Copernicus and EGNSS provide the necessary data, services and products, growing security threats require means of communication that is robustly protected against interference, interception, intrusion, and other risks,’’ adds EUSPA Executive Director, Rodrigo da Costa. ‘’With GOVSATCOM the European Union will make another step into securing its strategic autonomy in space’’ he concludes.
In late 2020, the H2020-funded ENTRUSTED project was established to provide, inter alia, a concrete set of governmental user requirements for the upcoming GOVSATCOM services. With over 25 participating entities including EU Member States and agencies, the consortium's partners joined forces to also assess the currently available state-of-the-art for SatCom technologies, analyse the future trends and identify key technological gaps and opportunities, including aspects such as standardisation and interoperability. Given its vast expertise in user-related aspects and market intelligence, EUSPA acts as the project coordinator of ENTRUSTED.
‘’EU Member State representatives and agencies met at the EUSPA headquarters for the first time after the pandemic to reflect on the progress made since the establishment of ENTRUSTED and to plan the steps necessary to conclude this strategic undertaking. As the project is slowly reaching the end of its lifecycle, I can say with confidence that we have successfully reached our main goal which is to define a solid user perspective baseline to be now translated into actual services’’ highlights Flavio Sbardellati, project manager for ENTRUSTED at EUSPA.
Throughout its lifetime, ENTRUSTED yielded excellent results. It is currently being used by DG DEFIS and EUSPA to shape the mission and the services offered by the fourth component of the EU Space Programme, GOVSATCOM. The outcomes generated helped EUSPA qualify and quantify the forecasted capacity demand by governmental users. Areas of great interest where secure communications capabilities will be key include critical infrastructures, land border and maritime surveillance as well as crisis management operations, including within the Common Security and Defence Policy.
A live demonstration is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023, which will take place in the Italian Space Agency (ASI) premises. The demonstration will consist of a live event complemented by a set of recorded scenarios produced by several ENTRUSTED partners. It will serve to showcase the benefit of accessing secure telecommunication services in remote areas and in crisis situations as well as the functioning of the pooling and sharing service provision model for a number of use cases.
Are you an EU public actor interested in secure communications?
The second Horizon Europe Call includes a specific topic looking to deliver SatCom use cases linked to the forthcoming GOVSATCOM system. This call is a unique opportunity for the European space downstream industry including SMEs and academia, but also public actors (e.g. regional and/or local authorities, infrastructure providers, civil protection organizations, etc.) to develop new EU space-based innovative applications, delivering commercial and social benefits.
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