Free-space Optical
Communication Outlook Chapter 4 「Players in free-space communication (FSO)」

Warpspace Inc.
3 min readDec 9, 2023

Free-space optical communication (FSO) player map

The companies involved in FSO can be mainly classified into four types. The matrix shows the major companies below (Not all the companies are covered.)

©Warpspace

Service providers in space segment: Launch data relay satellites for ground-satellite and inter-satellite link communication services. Satellites are launched into LEO (Low Earth Orbit), MEO (Medium Earth Orbit), and/or GEO (Geostationary Orbit)

  • LEO: Lower power requirements due to proximity, enabling power efficiency and smaller terminals. However, a large number of satellites are needed to achieve global coverage resulting in increased development and launch costs. Additionally, multiple satellite relays may cause latency.
  • MEO: Avoids latency by not requiring multiple satellite relays, but terminals are relatively larger and demand more power than LEO (still smaller than GEO). Also, satellites in MEO face a more challenging radiation environment.
  • GEO: The largest terminals are required among the possible orbits due to increased distance, but longer satellite operation time as visibility from the ground is extended.

Suppliers in space segment (OCT supplier): Provide optical communication terminals (OCTs) for ground-satellite or inter-satellite links to service providers. They engage in the design, manufacturing, and testing of satellites and communication equipment and offer technical support to service providers.

Service providers in the ground segment: Manage ground stations and related facilities, offering FSO services to ground users. They oversee the operation and management of ground stations, including design, operation, and maintenance. Also, they provide communication services from the ground to satellites and deliver services to users.

Suppliers in the ground segment: Supply necessary equipment and technology for ground stations. They provide ground station facilities, including antennas, communication equipment, and control systems, and offer technical support and maintenance for ground stations.

Players in FSO (non-exhaustive)

Service providers in the space segment

Kepler Communications: Deploys small relay satellites in LEO to provide data relay services.

Warpspace: Deploys small relay satellites in MEO to offer optical inter-satellite data relay services. The slightly higher orbit allows for low-latency, high-capacity communication with fewer satellites.

SPACE COMPASS: Deploys relay satellites in GEO to provide data relay services, transmitting data from satellites orbiting LEO or MEO to the ground.

Suppliers in the space segment (OCT supplier)

Mynaric: Manufactures optical communication terminals (OCT) for small satellites.

TESAT: Manufactures OCTs not only for GEO but also provides lighter OCTs for LEO available for small satellites.

Service providers in the ground segment

SSC: Builds and operates a globally distributed ground station network, offering services such as data transfer, communication link provision, and support for communication between satellites and ground stations. Also provides data processing and collection services for space and Earth observation missions.

Suppliers in the ground segment

Cailabs: Designs, manufactures, and sells photonic (optical engineering) products for communication and industrial lasers. Provides ground-based laser communication terminals.

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Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.