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Intelsat sticks with Plan A

When the proposed merger between giant satellite operator Intelsat and newcomer OneWeb – and financed in large part by Japanese media conglomerate SoftBank- hit some stormy waters, many observers spoke about Intelsat’s Plan B, as to what it might do should the merger unravel.

Intelsat’s SVP/Sales & Marketing, Kurt Riegelman, speaking to trade magazine Via Satellite, stressed that in fact Intelsat would adopt Plan A, which was the situation that Intelsat and OneWeb were in prior to the merger proposal.  Intelsat had already invested in OneWeb as part of a mutually-beneficial plan to tap into OneWeb’s extremely good latency, and its ability to girdle the Earth.

The SoftBank-engineered OneWeb merger deal failed because Intelsat’s bond-holders as they sit on a very large portion of the company’s $15 billion of debt, and held out for better terms. SoftBank declined to meet their demands. Riegelman praised OneWeb’s frequency rights and how they would fit into Intelsat’s own plans for capacity expansion.

Last week the FCC approved OneWeb’s frequency plan and granted US licences to operate its fleet of 720 satellites over US territory. Riegelman explained that the initial portfolio of ideas included aircraft mobility, as well as connectivity into cars and other vehicles, as well as expanding Intelsat’s existing governmental and maritime bandwidth.

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