Category: Broadband

Rocket Lab to OHB to Thales Alenia Space to the ITU to… a Ka-/Ku- band LEO satellite constellation

PARIS — A 50-kilogram satellite built by OHB SE of Germany and launched into low Earth orbit Jan. 20 aboard a Rocket Lab Electron vehicle has salvaged — in extremis — a radio frequency reservation by Thales Alenia Space that was filed seven years ago and was set to expire on Jan. 29, according to industry officials and regulatory documents.
These are the same Thales Alenia Space-registered frequencies that the now-scrapped LeoSat constellation project had been slated to use. LeoSat closed when it could not . . .
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Speedcast exiting Chapter 11 with $500M in equity after Centerbridge wins ownership battle with Black Diamond

PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Speedcast International Ltd. is expected to exit Chapter 11 by mid-March following the Jan. 22 approval of a restructuring plan by its bankruptcy court.
The ruling was made possible by a December settlement between Speedcast’s two largest creditors — Centerbridge Partners L.P. and Black Diamond Capital Management — both of which wanted to purchase Speedcast.
After a months-long series of maneuvers that delayed Speedcast’s exit from Chapter 11, it was Centerbridge that emerged the winner . . .
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With EU worries about its SpaceX Starlink deal in background, Microsoft Azure explains its satellite play

PARIS — European government officials recently said the partnership between Microsoft Azure and SpaceX Starlink is one reason the European Union needs its own global broadband constellation tethered to a European data distribution network.
These same officials either did not know or chose not to mention that before Azure teamed up with SpaceX Starlink, it had concluded a deep relationship with Luxembourg-based SES Networks’s O3b mPower constellation, to launch starting this year.
Other Azure partners include the KSat of . . .
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Kymeta questions SpaceX Starlink antenna cost, and warns GEO satellite operators on pricing

PARIS — The biggest questions surrounding SpaceX’s Starlink consumer broadband network relate to its ability to secure landing rights around the world, nation by nation, and the real cost of its system — especially its electronically steered phased-array antenna.
Satellite broadband hardware and service provider Hughes Network Systems has estimated that the Starlink antenna costs SpaceX between $1,000 and $1,500:
On Jan. 19, mobile satellite electronically steered, flat-panel manufacturer Kymeta . . .
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Indonesia confident ITU will OK Satria satellite deadline extension, starts shopping for interim 16 gbps

PARIS — Indonesian authorities said they are preparing a detailed statement to international regulators explaining how the Covid crisis has delayed construction of the Satria Ka-band broadband satellite and why Indonesia should be given a one-year deadline extension to put it into orbit.
They also said financing of the Satria satellite, the core of the $1.4-billion broadband deployment program managed by Indonesia’s Bakti agency, is about to clear final approvals from export-credit providers Bpifrance and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB.

Avanti, again on the precipice, has until Feb 8 to refinance or face UK Chapter 11 filing

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Avanti Communications Group plc is back on a cliff edge and facing a British Chapter 11-type restructuring as a bond payment deadline approaches that would trigger a broader default.
Avanti said it was in “advanced discussions with a financing source” to cover the debt payment, due Feb. 8, but a recent change in Britain’s bankruptcy code could make a Chapter 11-type filing more appealing than a refinancing on onerous terms.
London-based Avanti, which operates five satellites in geostationary orbit . . .
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Viasat: Military IFC to be bigger than commercial; SpaceX Starlink is burning capital unsustainably

PARIS — Viasat Inc. said providing satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC) to military aircraft will be at least as large a market as commercial airline fleets, and perhaps larger, as the company enters the largely untapped market of providing broadband links over the Pacific.
The broader military market including airborne and naval platforms equipped with Viasat-built multi-band terminals may top the list of Viasat’s ambitions for its Viasat-3 network of three satellites in geostationary orbit ringing the globe.
The company is positioning itself to . . .
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OneWeb raises $400M in equity from SoftBank and Hughes

PARIS — Satellite-broadband provider OneWeb raised $350 million in new equity from its previous lead investor, SoftBank Group Corp., and $50 million from ground-segment hardware provider Hughes Network Systems, bringing total financing to $1.4 billion — about $800 million short of what it needs to complete its first-generation constellation.
London-based OneWeb emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November under the co-ownership of the British government and India’s Bharti Global telecom operator. Each promised $500 million.

European Commission outlines flexibility of 7-year, $18.25B budget, and Britain’s return to Copernicus

PARIS — The European Commission has reserved the right to move funding between programs in its 2021-2027 budget but details about how that could occur remain unclear.
The Commission has also penciled in a figure of 18% as the expected contribution of Britain to the Copernicus environment-monitoring program pending final negotiations on precise terms and conditions.
An 18% investment by the U.K. would be equivalent to 975.78 million euros ($1.2 billion) for Copernicus over the seven-year budget period.

EU Commission’s broadband constellation meets industry reservations about co-investment

PARIS — The European Commission is saddling its proposed broadband satellite constellation with so many missions and deadlines that one European industry official suspected the commission may be trying to scuttle its own initiative.
A kinder interpretation is that the Commission is wrestling with a new and difficult project and still testing ideas to see which catch on with prospective government and industry investors.
Whatever the motivation, a series of briefings Jan. 12-13 featuring industry concerns about the constellation’s business case and the Commission’s piling . . .
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