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Our society and economy are increasingly dependent on secure telecommunications networks. These networks are required for the secure operation of critical infrastructures, governmental services or in transport. They may constitute a systemic point of failure with major safety and security threats, in particular during disruptions caused by natural or human-made disasters or by cyber attacks. Satellite communications can provide a secure space component as a self-standing element or in complement to the terrestrial telecommunications system. Terrestrial networks may benefit from satellite communication infrastructure to reduce vulnerability and increase the overall resilience.
The European Space Agency has initiated a new ARTES Strategic Programme Line dedicated to “Space Systems for Safety and Security (4S)” (https://artes.esa.int/4s-space-systems-safety-and-security). It is aimed at supporting the development of safe and secure satellite communication systems to improve digital European telecommunication infrastructure resilience. Additionally, the 4S programme aims to support the development of security and safety applications and their adoption in the coming decade by relevant user communities and institutional/public governing bodies.
Since the launch of the ESA GOVSATCOM Precursor program in 2016, four PACIS projects were launched trying to bring to the market new disruptive digital platforms, termed Pooling and Sharing (PSS) systems, with a goal to allow a near real-time seamless matchmaking between Satcom demands and Satcom offers for institutional and commercial users that have specific reliability, availability and security demands.
While initial solutions were mostly driven by individual operators (service providers or satellite operators), a natural evolution of the platforms is to allow other operators to join in order to build a more appealing solution by offering complementary offers and/or include competitive offers, resulting in lower prices for users and a bigger market for all operators.
As a number of new PSS-related initiatives have been proposed by industry in response to the ESA ARTES 4S Announcement of Opportunity to Industry in 2019, it now becomes critical to provide a framework to allow interoperability between these emerging PSS systems through standardized interfaces. The alternative would be that every solution would go in an individual proprietary direction, limiting their market acceptance and increasing their deployment costs.
The Agency is launching this activity to provide the unique opportunity for European Satellite operators and service providers to join forces in a coordinated way and develop a set of common interfaces they can all work towards as their systems evolve. For the Agency, this activity is considered strategic and key for the 4S Special Programme Line as it can act as an enabler to foster the emergence of incremental digital PSS solutions (either by linking several Pooling and Sharing systems together and/or by allowing new operators to join an existing Pooling and Sharing solution).
The scope will be to provide PSS-solution agnostic interfaces, targeting a near to market implementation that will be accepted by a large number of commercial operators, service providers and commercial PSS solution providers. This will be a catalyst that will enable the deployment of commercial PSS solutions by 2022, leveraging the Agency’s investment in PACIS and subsequent ARTES 4s Developments will allow them to offer secure, reliable and affordable services to users anywhere in the world by integrating offers from different commercial resource providers.
This activity, will have a budget of 3 MEu, out of which 75% will be funded by ESA and 25% co-funded by industry.
For this call, companies residing in the following Member States will be eligible to apply: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Bidding teams are requested to obtain a Letter of Support from all the respective national delegations before submitting the Proposal.
Responding to an open competitive Invitation to Tender (ITT) requires the submission of a Proposal. The Proposal will be evaluated according to ESA regulations and procedures.
The consequential evaluation of proposals results in a recommendation for a winning bid. In the case that several proposals of good quality targeting different and/or complementary aspects are submitted, the Agency reserves the right to place parallel contracts for each of the open competitive ITTs in coordination with the relevant national delegations.
Registration as Bidder
The Prime and all subcontractors must register as potential bidders via esa-star, prior to downloading the official tender documents from EMITS (which will be available as soon as the ITT is open, in April 2020) and submitting their Proposal. The registration process needs to be started as soon as possible, as it will take time to complete.