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The decision is seen as a counter to the recent advances in satellite coverage by Russia and China.

The European Union announced it has reached a deal on a €6 billion satellite internet system. The deal is the result of the EU’s campaign to promote its space and communications sectors, as well as ensure overall security by reducing reliance on foreign suppliers.

The Commission announced the initiative to build and operate the satellite internet system in February. Representatives from the European Parliament and the European Council (representing all 27 members of the bloc) agreed on the deal on Thursday, Reuters reports.

According to the European Commission, the program sets out to deploy an EU satellite constellation to be called ‘IRIS²’ (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite). Negotiations have now concluded, paving the way for final approval of the legal text by the European Parliament and European Council.

The reasons behind the deal

The EU satellite plan has been agreed on as concerns are growing about Russian and Chinese military advances in outer space. There’s been a surge in satellite launches as of late.

Reuters notes that having its own satellite internet system could help the European Union speed up the deployment of broadband internet in Europe. The satellite network would also cover Africa, where the EU could offer countries an alternative to Chinese competitors.

A space-based network can back up terrestrial networks in the event of major outages or disasters, and offer connections in places not covered by traditional service providers.

The Commission wants to divert €2.4 billion from various EU programs and use unspent money from other EU projects, while the private sector is expected to stump up the remaining €3.6 billion.

The proposed satellite internet system could lead to the construction and launch of up to 170 low-orbit satellites between 2025 and 2027.