The European Union (EU) has announced plans to launch its own communications satellite network by 2027. The European Parliament and the EU member states reached an agreement Thursday under which the satellite communications internet system IRIS2 (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection and Security by Satellites) will be built, DW reported.
This is a $6.2 billion project, which will be jointly funded by EU agencies and private companies. EU will contribute $2.4 billion, while the private sector is expected to fund the remaining $3.7 billion. The project was first announced in February before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; however, a disagreement over funding had stalled the negotiations.
A statement by the European Parliament centrist political group Renew Europe read, “[IRIS 2] will secure the Union’s sovereignty and autonomy by guaranteeing fewer dependencies on third-country infrastructure, and the provision of critical communication services where terrestrial networks are absent or disrupted, as observed, for instance, in Ukraine.”
The EU has realised the importance of self-sufficiency in the internet sector in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war. The satellite internet has proven greatly useful after the start of the war.
After the invasion, the first thing that Russia did was cut off Ukraine’s access to terrestrial internet. In response, tech billionaire Elon Musk offered Ukraine free access to his satellite internet system Starlink.
The main objective of the EU’s satellite program is to maintain secure internet access in crisis situations like cyber attacks and natural disasters. The network will also be able to provide internet access to remote areas and remove dark zones in Europe, the Arctic region and Africa.
(With inputs from agencies)