Kymeta, the satellite antenna company backed by investors including Bill Gates, has reached a deal with Intelsat, the world’s largest satellite services company, to develop and optimize Kymeta’s laptop-sized mTenna satellite antennas for use with Intelsat’s Epic satellites on the widely used Ku-band satellite frequencies.
The deal, announced this morning, is the latest step in Kymeta’s efforts to enable stronger and cheaper satellite Internet connections around the world. The Redmond-based company’s technology uses metamaterials to steer the beam electronically, avoiding the mechanical movements found in much larger, traditional satellite dishes.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the companies. The agreement with Intelsat is “a major milestone” for the company that further validates Kymeta’s approach, said Hakan Olsson, the company’s senior director of business development.
The ability to use Kymeta’s technology to receive a consistent signal on moving vehicles — including airplanes and boats — should open up new uses and applications “on a mass scale,” said Bill Marks, Kymeta’s executive vice president of strategy and business development.
“At the end of this initial agreement, we will have products that are released into the market that enhance Intelsat’s existing customer base and enable us both to get into new markets that have never had satellite connectivity before,” Marks said.
The companies aren’t talking about the specific timing of those new products, but Intelsat’s first Epic satellite is expected to launch toward the end of this year.
Kymeta, which originally spun out of Intellectual Ventures, raised $20 million in 2014, following a $50 million funding round the year before. The company’s previous CEO, Vern Fotheringham, stepped down at the end of 2014 and was replaced on an interim basis by CTO Nathan Kundtz.