"Networks of Excellence" have been introduced as a new instrument within the 6th IST framework program. SatNEx is one of the first consortia to implement the new ideas and to overcome the fragmentation of European research. Through co-operation of outstanding universities and research organisations with excellent expertise in satellite communications, SatNEx will build a European virtual centre of excellence in satellite communications and contribute to the realisation of the European Research Areas. The Institute contributes to the joint research activities in the area of adaptive modulation and coding techniques, radio resource management and IP QoS, Free Space Optics channel modelling for inter-satellite and ground-to-satellite links, study of High Altitude Platforms (HAPs), emergency communications systems and trials. Further contributions from the Institute are connected to the set-up of a satellite communications platform for all partners and the provisioning of testing facilities (satellite simulator, Ku-Band and Ka-Band ground stations).