California-based Viasat and Paris-based Eutelsat were once extremely friendly, and still have good – formal – relations with one another although not quite as strong as a couple of years ago.
The pair are bound together in a joint-venture over the use of spectrum on Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat, and while initially the joint venture was intended to see the two operators cooperate on a range of consumer broadband-by-satellite services, they will now compete against one another in broadband.
Eutelsat has its ‘Konnect’ series of Very High Throughput satellites, the first launching later this year mainly for service over Africa and Western Europe. Built by Thales Alenia the craft will provide 75 Gb/s of capacity, and will be followed by a European-focussed Konnect craft in 2021.
Meanwhile, Viasat is readying its second Viasat-3 series satellite for use over Europe, the MENA region and Asia. This craft is expected to be in orbit by 2022 and will complete a circle around the planet of American, Asia-Pacific and European satellites offering broadband capacity.
Viasat is extremely well placed to understand consumer needs. Its US satellite services have 587,000 paying subs, although it is fair to say that those numbers have somewhat stagnated this past year (growing by just 1.7 per cent).
Viasat also has in sight the ‘direct-to-seat’ passengers in aircraft.
Meanwhile, with Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat Viasat is concentrating on three European markets where Ka-Sat has available capacity: Spain, Poland and Norway. Its other Spotbeams are more or less full.
Time will tell how much demand there will be for Viasat or Konnect’s new services.