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SES is sitting on a potential cash war-chest equal to some $1.6 billion (€1.47bn) which could be spent on a global broadband satellite system. The cash pile is building up now as part of the operator’s financial planning and will fully be in place by 2020.
Reports in trade magazine Space News say that SES has for months been rumoured to be in discussion with EchoStar of Denver, Colorado, and aircraft In Flight Entertainment specialists Thales Live TV, about adding to existing satellite capacity and supplying a global service for broadband delivery. Space News says that satellite builder Thales Alenia Space could be the prime contractor.
SES has a growing enthusiasm for Ka-band capacity, and on August 1 consolidated its ownership of O3b, a 12-craft constellation of Medium Earth Orbiting (MEO) satellites, which is managing to double its revenues this year to an expected $100 million or more.
On July 29th Karim Michel Sabbagh, speaking at the SES half-year results, said: “Increasingly, we’ll be inclined to consider that MEO may be a more efficient way of doing it, with more-relevant performance for end users – improved bandwidth, latency and economics. As we deploy the payloads on a MEO arc, the economics are more favourable,” he told analysts.
SES is already heavily involved with In Flight Entertainment, and has contracts in place with Panasonic Avionics, Global Eagle Entertainment and Gogo, each of which is building up a portfolio of airlines which take their services.