TNO & Airbus NL sign MoU to bring terabit Optical Ground Station (OGS) to market

4 December 2020

TNO and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands (Airbus DS NL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It confirms their commitment to work together to commercialise the ground-breaking Terabit Optical Communication Adaptive Terminal (TOmCAT) technology that will enable high-throughput laser communication between ground stations and satellites. By offering broadband connectivity via space, TOmCAT provides a secure and efficient solution for the fast-growing demand for data.

Commitment to collaborate

Render TOmCAT product

With the signing of the MoU, TNO and Airbus DS NL have now officially committed to continuing their partnership in the TOmCAT project currently in development. Once the technology is proven effective in the demonstrator project, for which the two project partners are working together closely, the designs will be ready for the ground terminal’s system architecture.

Airbus DS NL will use these designs to produce commercially available ground stations that will enable the telecommunications industry to make use of this cutting edge, high-throughput technology. The recently signed MoU confirms the partners’ plan to continue their collaboration until a marketable product is available.

Confirmation of leading position

Ofelia laser communication demonstrator

TOmCAT is an opportunity to establish the Netherlands as a leader in cutting-edge Optical Communications technology. TNO’s ongoing relationship withAirbus DS NL helps solidify that position. ‘I’m very glad we can continue our trusted relationship with Airbus DS NL and bring TOmCAT technology to the market together,’ says Erik Fritz, Programme Manager at TNO.

‘Making this highly complex technology commercially available will ensure that the Netherlands continues to be at the forefront of the next generation of communication. As one of the few countries in the world working on this technology, we are proud that we have another Dutch player with whom to share our knowledge and applied innovation.’

Alex Mendes, Product Line Manager at Airbus DS NL adds: ‘We have a very strong optical communications industry and technology cluster in the Netherlands. Together with our Dutch partners, we will develop the products that the market needs. We are very happy with this milestone. It is a reflection of the excellent collaboration between Airbus DS NL and TNO.’

Preparation for the future

TOmCAT will help support the growing demand for data, and increase communication efficiency – which are shared goals of TNO Space and Airbus DS NL. Although still in the development phase, the end-to-end Optical Feeder Links and Terabit Optical Ground Stations that make up TOmCAT are showing tremendous promise and potential to reach these goals. Once the technology is proven to be effective, the jointly developed knowledge, expertise and system designs will be used in commercially available, high-quality products.

TNO Space helps stimulate economic growth in the Netherlands and Europe by enabling companies to realise new products, generate new business and improve their competitive position. TOmCAT is one example of these goals in practice.