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Eutelsat’s CEO, Rodolphe Belmer, speaking at the Washington Satellite 2017 show, said he had no plans at the moment to seek a MEO/LEO fleet of satellites, although also added “at this time”.
Belmer stressed time and again that Eutelsat did not see the world’s viewers – or broadcasters – abandoning their satellite delivery of video entertainment. “Linear video viewing is still around five hours a day in almost every country in the world, and while in some markets it might have dropped by a few minutes, and some two hours a day is spent on OTT viewing, the core [satellite and cable] viewing stays in place.”
“We have not underestimated the threat from OTT [to satellite-delivered linear TV], and they are the flavour of the moment.”
As to the possibilities of Eutelsat joining the MEO/LEO ‘club’, Belmer is now alone in terms of his closest rivals.
Intelsat has the potential relationship with OneWeb, while Canada’s Telesat will launch its first pair of demo satellites later in 2017 and has plans in place for up to 200 small satellites. SES already has O3b in its fleet and is committed to expanding its commitment to O3b.
Speaker after speaker at Satellite 2017 spoke enthusiastically about the benefits – and need – for in-orbit LEO or MEO satellites. Dan Goldberg (CEO, Telesat) endorsed the concept: “We firmly believe in the concept. Our customers are interested in the technology, and that the satellites will provide us with a competitive edge.”
Goldberg said he saw Telesat entering service with its LEO fleet in 2021. “We are looking at some of the limitations of Geostationary satellites, and we are looking at how we might combine the two technologies.”