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The number of FSS satellites has grown tremendously over the past five years in response to increased demand. Deregulation of international markets has sparked the rise of new companies providing content to customers via satellite. Harmonization of digital transmission standards has helped manufacturers, allowing for economies of scale and more cost-effective distribution.
One MSS industry leader, Iridium, is implementing a major network upgrade. In June 2010, Iridium selected France’s Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for its second-generation satellite constellation, named Iridium NEXT. The upgraded network will consist of ## active and ## spare satellites, scheduled for launch between 2015 and 2017.[
GEO satellites can allow a signal to be beamed over a wide fixed coverage area, with the potential to reach a third of the Earth’s surface. They are thus ideal for FSS operators, who often use them to send a single data stream to many stationary antennas in one or more continents. FSS satellites provide DTH video or internet services, corporate network connectivity, broadcast video distribution, and secure communications for the military. Of the ## total active satellites in 2012, ## are communications satellites.
Iridium’s LEO constellation of ## active and ## spare satellites relay signals to each other directly, unlike other systems that require multiple hops between space and the ground to send signals around the world. In June 2010, the company named France’s Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor to construct the communications payload for Iridium’s second-generation, ##-satellite constellation Iridium NEXT.