Site: Nuova Telespazio
Via Tiburtina, 965
00156 Roma, Italy

Date Visited: September 11, 1997

WTEC: J.N. Pelton (report author), N. Helm, W. Brandon



There has been a basic restructure and reorganization of Telespazio and its parent company (now Telecom Italia) since 1994/1995. All of the telecommunications services and equipment manufacturing companies that were once a part of the STET group have been consolidated under Telecom Italia. In terms of services, there is Telecom Italia, Telecom Italia Mobile, Iridium Italia and Nuova Telespazio. (Former designations such as SIP, Italcable, SIRM, and IRITE are no longer used in the consolidated organizations.) Telecommunications equipment manufacturers under the Telecom Italia umbrella include Italtel/Telsi, Sirti, Telsof Sodalia, Finsiel, and SEAT.

Alenia and the other parts of the former STET are in different units under the restructuring. Overall, Telecom Italia is a very large organization with 132,000 employees. Its overall gross revenues for 1995 and 1996 were $22 billion and $30 billion, respectively. Nuova Telespazio after the reorganization was streamlined about 10% to 1000 employees. Further streamlining and staff reductions are envisioned for the overall Telecom Italia organization, but staff levels for Telespazio are likely to remain much the same over the next few years. Revenues of about $300 million were realized by all of Telespazio's operations and increases to perhaps $400 million are envisioned for coming years, with satellite television services being the largest and fastest growing market.

Telespazio is largely an operational service provider and spends only a small amount on R&D. Its focus on the future is thus largely directed toward investing in and supporting new ventures. These activities include: (a) participation in Euteltracs; (b) participation in future space navigation systems (especially Genesis 2) with ESA; (c) supporting the European Mobile Satellite package on ITALSAT F2; (d) providing Orbcomm messaging services in Europe; (e) participation in the ground system deployment of the Iridium system for 14 countries in Europe, for South America, as well as providing Iridium services; and (f) consideration of participation in one or more of the new high data rate multimedia satellite systems.


Rather than having an explicit R&D program, Telespazio has concentrated on technology transfer through such programs as Orbcomm, Iridium, Euteltracs, and a high data rate multimedia satellite system to be decided on in the near future. Although Telespazio does design and build its own experimental satellites, it has participated in many such programs over the years.


The role of Telespazio as part of Telecom Italia is as a service provider. Its services are divided into seven strategic business areas:

  1. narrow band (voice and data) telecommunications for public networks
  2. business user (wider band) networks
  3. television
  4. mobile communications (messaging-Euteltracs, Prodat, and Orbcomm) and (voice/data-Iridium)
  5. earth observation
  6. space systems and services
  7. systems and services for defense

For voice and data services, Telespazio utilizes EUTELSAT, INTELSAT, ITALSAT, and Orion. For television, Telespazio utilizes: EUTELSAT, INTELSAT, Panamsat and Arabsat. Telespazio is a particularly strong supporter of EUTELSAT, as demonstrated by being the first user, currently using some 40% of the system and strongly supporting the use of the soon to be deployed EUTELSAT "HotBird" over the SES Astra system. (At the time of this WTEC visit there was little use of direct-to-the home satellite service, but rapid sales were expected once HotBird is deployed.

There are a number of areas where Telespazio is looking for future service offerings. These are space navigation (especially Genesis 2), expanded mobile satellite services and new Ka-band high data rate/multimedia services (system participation to be defined).

Navigational Satellite Services

Telespazio has participated in the latest definition study of a European navigation satellite program known as Genesis 2. Telespazio would like to play a strong role in the future definition and deployment of the so-called Egnos advanced space navigation system.

New Mobile Satellite Services

Telespazio is the key player in the deployment of the Orbcomm store and forward satellite system in Europe. By 1998 the system will be fully deployed and initial service was beginning in 1997-typically via 4.8 kbps data channels. One of the key services to be provided will be Viasat, which will provide services to the mass auto market with regard to radio location, security and special assistance and messaging services. Orbcomm services will be provided in Europe through a European Partnership (EPS-MCS) in which Telespazio holds 64%. Telespazio is the key organization in Europe for Iridium. It is involved in the system control for Europe and the engineering, implementation and operation of the Iridium gateways for Europe. It is also a key participant in Iridium Italia, which has the exclusive service provider rights for 14 European countries (essentially the same as ESA member countries). It is also participating in the definition of the second generation of Iridium.

New Ka-band Satellite Service

There is keen interest in participation in the provision of future broadband high data rate multimedia services (384 kbs to 6 Mbps) in Italy and overseas. Definition studies and possible collaborative arrangements are under study by Telespazio and its parent organization Telecom Italia.


Nuova Telespazio is clearly the most broadly active and aggressive user of satellite communications services in Europe. This is supported by being a part of one of the major telecommunications services providers (Telecom Italia), its historical leadership role from the beginning of INTELSAT and its unique structure and organization that allows it to focus on space applications, as opposed to other European telecommunications service providers, which are focused on terrestrial telecommunications rather than on satellites. To date, no one in Europe has chosen to follow the Telespazio model. The strong programs in television, global telecommunications, business services, and earth observation seem likely to continue with new programs likely to be added in navigation, in messaging, in mobile voice and data and in broadband services.

Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian