Eutelsat is ordering up a new broadband satellite from Thales Alenia which is replacing a planned joint-venture with California-based ViaSat.
Konnect VHTS (Very High Throughput Satellite) is the new craft. Eutelsat, in a statement said: “The investment in Konnect VHTS replaces the project of a joint investment with ViaSat in a ViaSat 3 satellite for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and is covered by Eutelsat’s capex objective of an average of €420 million per annum.”
ViaSat says that its joint-venture with Eutelsat remains in place and stating that it will also be placing a new satellite (ViaSat-3) over Europe, which was the cornerstone of the joint-venture. Rick Baldridge, ViaSat’s president & COO, stated: “ViaSat confirmed it will not be moving forward with Eutelsat on a deal for use of the ViaSat-3 satellite, due to Eutelsat’s decision to pursue a local market alternative. As we commented previously, negotiations on the ViaSat-3 deal were highly complex. While we had hoped to reach an agreement on new capacity over Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), we were never able to get over some of the fundamental principles.”
“ViaSat remains excited about its ViaSat-3 programme for EMEA, which is well underway and on track, and the Company believes there is significant interest in the program from prospective regional partners. As there was no binding agreement with Eutelsat for the ViaSat-3 EMEA satellite, Viasat’s capital plan is not dependent on Eutelsat’s participation to proceed with the ViaSat-3 program. ViaSat-3 will be the highest capacity satellite system in the world when it launches, and will serve more than 1 Terabit per second (Tbps) of total network capacity to meet the growing broadband needs of residential, commercial aviation, maritime, enterprise and government sectors.”
ViaSat also confirmed that the development has no direct impact on existing contracts. The joint venture, which has been in operation for more than one year, will continue to be governed under the existing agreements. ViaSat’s joint ownership of the KA-SAT satellite is currently serving ViaSat’s commercial aviation and government customers as well as direct-to-home residential subscribers throughout Europe.
The new Eutelsat Konnect satellite, which is due to enter into service in 2021, will be built by Thales Alenia Space which will develop a satellite and ground segment solution that is the most competitive on the market today. With a weight of 6.3 ton and a Ka-band capacity of 500 Gbps, Konnect VHTS will embark the most powerful on-board digital processor ever put in orbit, offering capacity allocation flexibility, optimal spectrum use, and progressive ground network deployment.
Eutelsat is linking with a multi-year distribution commitment from French telco Orange, and Thales. Eutelsat says: “A retail partnership was signed with Orange to address the fixed broadband market in European countries where the Group has a retail presence, and a distribution partnership was inked with Thales to serve notably the government connectivity services market.”
Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat, said: “We are delighted to sign this agreement with global partners, Orange and Thales, which confirms the place of satellite-based solutions in the drive for enhanced high-speed internet coverage. As a core complement to terrestrial broadband networks, high-speed broadband will be a critical driver of Eutelsat’s growth from 2020 onwards. Over the next decade, VHTS satellites will bring enough capacity to serve high speed internet and in-flight connectivity markets at scale, offering fiber-like services both in terms of price and speed.”
The ViaSat/Eutelsat joint-venture was announced in February 2016 and saw ViaSat take responsibility for Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat craft over Europe, and between them market broadband by satellite to European homes with a new satellite modelled on an advanced Viasat-3 craft being built by Boeing.
On April 4th, ViaSat announced it was opening a new office in Dublin, and 100 new jobs, to target markets for consumer and business-related broadband.