Category: Ground Segment

For OneWeb and SpaceX Starlink, a competition for the favors of the U.S. military

PARIS — Broadband LEO satellite constellation operators OneWeb and SpaceX Starlink, both counting on the U.S. military as a major customer, are looking to decisions by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Defense Department this year as an indication of how well each of them is positioned.
The FCC is weighing whether to accept a modification to SpaceX Starlink’s license to allow all 4,400 Starlink satellites to operate from around 550 kilometers. the original license was 1,100 . . .
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Incoming head of French space agency, CNES: Top priority is the challenge from Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba

PARIS — The incoming new president of the French space agency, CNES, passed his examination by the French legislature, surmounting criticism of his “atypical” background as a researcher and mathematician with stints at IBM and France’s CNRS research center, with no experience in the space sector.
Given his professional history, including a Master of Science and a doctorate in computer science, it was not surprising that Philippe Baptiste said his highest priority at CNES would be to confront the challenge posed by Amazon, Microsoft . . .
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SpaceX has reduced production cost of Starlink phased-array terminals by > 50%, to <$1,500, Shotwwell says

PARIS — The SpaceX Starlink broadband satellite service began beta testing in October 2020 with user terminals that cost $3,000 and has since been brought down production cost to less than $1,500, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said.
Shotwell’s remarks, made April 6 during the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum, answers one of many business-model issues surrounding Starlink, which Shotwell said now counts 1,320 of its 260-kilogram Version 1.0 satellites in orbit.
The Starlink beta testing asks users to pay . . .
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Satellite ground antenna manufacturers Intellian, ThinKom say constellations will cause systemic stresses

PARIS — ThinKom and Intellian, two successful satellite ground antenna manufacturers whose business will profit from constellations of low-orbiting satellites, warned of the threat of signal interference and collision risk with so much traffic in such close quarters.
They also said that the goal of building consumer antennas for $300 or less will remain elusive given the demands placed on this hardware to avoid signal interference.
“Antenna components by themselves are declining in cost because you are producing in massive scales now because a LEO . . .
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Cart before the horse: SpaceX Starlink solicitation in India without a license draws protest from broadband forum

PARIS — Nineteen years after its founding, SpaceX continues to show enough brass to outfit a marching band. We’ll see how it plays in India, the world’s largest potentially addressable satellite broadband market.
For the past several weeks, SpaceX Starlink has been advertising in India, and on its own website, that its consumer broadband network, Starlink, is coming imminently to India for beta testing.
It invites prospective Indian subscribers to lay down $99, or about 7,250 Indian rupees, as a refundable deposit. This . . .
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Speedcast post-Chapter 11: $550 million in pro forma 2020 revenue, no debt, a new bandwidth procurement strategy

PARIS — If you have to go through Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, the Speedcast way is better than most:
— In and out in less than a year, having shed non-core businesses, with pro forma 2020 revenue of slightly more than $550 million.
— All secured debt wiped off the books.
— $215 million in cash, net of $285 million in previous DIP financing from the new owner, Centerbridge Partners LP.
— Now . . .
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Eutelsat, Intelsat, SES to Canadian regulator: C-band-clearing payments must not go only to Telesat

PARIS — Satellite fleet operators Eutelsat, Intelsat and SES warned the Canadian government that any repurposing of C-band spectrum that compensates only Canada’s Telesat would be a violation of international trade agreements.
The tree companies, filing separate comments as part of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada’s consultation on C-band repurposing, said Canada should afford them the same rights that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) afforded Telesat in the U.S. C-band-clearing process . . .
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SES says it has ‘smoking gun’ in case v Intelsat, wants to stop Intelsat SA from taking C-band cash

PARIS — SES asked Intelsat’s bankruptcy court to help stop Intelsat’s parent company, Intelsat S.A., from riding off with $5 billion in cash coming from the U.S. government in order to empty Intelsat U.S.’s account and escape SES’s claim for up to $1.8 billion.
SES is worried that even if it won its case against Intelsat U.S., scheduled for trial on June 28, it might be an empty victory if, before the trial starts, Intelsat wins court . . .
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EU NewSpace to European Commission: Please give us a chance in contract bids

PARIS — Twenty-six mainly German NewSpace companies are pressuring the European Commission to open its contract bidding to space startups to give them a chance to prove themselves.
In a Feb. 24 letter to European Commissioner Thierry Breton, the companies — satellite constellation operator startups, satellite component builders and small-launcher developers — said the Commission’s criteria for allowing bids for large programs automatically excludes NewSpace startups.
In addition, they said the European Payload Policy appears to exclude any launch-service providers other than Arianespace . . .
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Gilat: We’re in MEO (SES mPower), LEO (looks like OneWeb via Hughes) and GEO (China Satcom); awaiting aero recovery

PARIS — Satellite ground hardware provide Gilat Satellite Networks spent much of 2020 cutting staff and other costs and coping with the free-fall in its in-flight-connectivity (IFC) business as the Covid pandemic grounded planes.
If there was ever a year to have a planned merger unilaterally cancelled by a counter-party, 2020 was it: Comtech Telecommunications Corp.’s decision to scrap the merger resulted in a $70 million cash payment to Gilat. http://bit.ly/34stJsM

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