Newtec and ESA: Celebrating 30 Years of Collaboration

Wednesday 30 September 2015
Newtec and ESA: Celebrating 30 Years of Collaboration
Carlo Elia, Head of Telecommunications Technologies at ESA, and Serge Van Herck, CEO of Newtec, during Newtec’s 30th anniversary event, held in Singapore in June 2015


30 yearsSpanning three decades, the relationship Newtec and the European Space Agency (ESA) has been and continues to be one of the biggest factors in our transformation from a startup organization into the satellite communication industry leader we are today.


Early Newtec and ESA Days

As an intergovernmental organization of 22 member states, ESA shapes the development of Europe’s space capability and ensures investment in space continues to benefit people in Europe, as well as the rest of the world. Our co-operation with the agency’s Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (TIA) department began shortly after Newtec was founded and grew into what we consider one of ESA’s closest relationships, creating good synergy and a win-win situation. When Newtec had just 30 employees, ESA helped us make noise in the ground segment space, enabling us to grow into the leader we have become. Newtec has always been very committed to ESA, delivering on projects we were assigned and producing tangible products which have been marketed and assimilated into the industry. 

During our early years, ESA was our main customer and we carefully followed its guidance and instruction, developing technologies and products for specific ESA missions.

Deregulation and Continuous Transformation

Following telco deregulation in Europe, Newtec entered the professional equipment market and started making standalone products. This saw our work with ESA evolve too and an early element of that was our involvement in the DVB-RCS twoway satellite system development. Introducing this type of broadband data system which had never been made before was a major undertaking and could not have been done without the support of ESA and Carlo Elia, the agency’s Head of Telecommunications Technologies.

We, in turn, credit ESA with helping make Newtec the company it is today. Not only does ESA provide technical support and follow-up, it also requests a business case is submitted for each project. As an engineering company, rather than a product company, this helped us focus on a more marketable approach.

As we began to make our mark on the professional equipment market, we started to play a part in setting the ESA agenda, recommending what would be of most benefit for the industry. These projects tended to involve relevant academic partners. In 2007, for example, we suggested researching pre-distortion technology, with the result of Equalink®, a technology now featured on most of our equipment.

“While ESA has continued to support the R&D strong engine of Newtec, Newtec in some years has managed to grow from a component manufacturer to a top-five worldwide Satcom Ground Segment solution provider. It has been able to change its internal culture and organization to adapt to this technical and multi-market revolution: A new internal organization with clear separation between engineering, validation, sales and customer support teams.”

Carlo Elia, Head of Telecommunications Technologies at ESA

ESA - Sat3lay team
Final Review meeting Sat3Play® broadband development project with ESA at ESTEC early 2012

The Next Phase

Some years ago, ESA began a new way of working through the creation of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) with the Satcom industry’s key players, reducing the risks associated with introducing a new technology for satellite operators. This type of program covers the introduction of new satellite payloads, new types of launches and electric, rather than fuel, satellite propulsion.

Today, Newtec is also entering a new era, with the recent Indigo project marking one of the first major steps and the first ARTES 33 PPP project focused on satellite ground segment infrastructure. Again, our involvement in this project demonstrates the risk the agency is willing to take on Newtec and our commitment to exploring new technologies and solutions, including what value they have for operators. 

We are proud that our relationship with ESA has developed in this way and we look forward to seeing the undoubtedly new and exciting developments yet to come from both organizations. Even better than this, Carlo assures us that ESA agrees wholeheartedly.

“We at ESA are very proud of the Newtec “model” because it shows how the ESAsponsored R&D effort has been bravely translated into a boost of innovation and competitiveness in a very dynamic and difficult market. This is exactly our objective for our industries.”

Carlo Elia, Head of Telecommunications Technologies at ESA



The Indigo project, which involves a PPP between ESA and global satellite operator Intelsat, will develop new ground segment innovations that maximize the new capabilities offered by the latest Intelsat EpicNG satellites. 

The project will also use the versatile Newtec Dialog® platform to deliver numerous services on the Intelsat EpicNG satellite platform and IntelsatOne® terrestrial network.

Indigo signing
Contract signing at the Paris Air Show June 2015 (fltr): Serge Van Herck, CEO of Newtec; Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of TIA; Andrea Dean, Contracts Officer; Stephen Spengler, CEO of Intelsat; Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency (2003 – 1 July 2015); Press Release


ESA’s backing will support the European industry and help Newtec further improve its Newtec Dialog modems, hubs and network management system to exploit the capabilities offered by the latest multibeam, multiband telecom satellites.

“Indigo is a partnership that focuses solely on ground technology and is an excellent example of how ESA can help boost innovation and strengthen Europe’s position in the global market.”

Magali Vaissiere, Director of TIA at ESA


Bank in AfricaAn ESA project which explored ways to use satellites for services in developing nations unserved by terrestrial networks gave rise to the Agency’s SatFinAfrica pilot project in 2011. 

The subsequent success saw the creation of SatADSL, a Belgian company set up to provide satellite communication for financial services to Africa. This enabled Microfinance offices in different villages to be linked via satellite, allowing people to transfer or withdraw money with ease.

Other services offered by SatADSL include cash machines for money withdrawals at any time, even in remote and otherwise unconnected places. These operate the same way as in Europe, only in Africa a satellite terminal sits on the roof.

SatFinAfrica uses Sat3Play satellite technology developed by Newtec in Belgium with assistance from ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme. The satellite link is provided by SES in Luxembourg using SES Broadband.

Newsletter September 2015This article was published in Newtec's Company Newsletter September 2015 issue, "Newtec News".

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