There are almost a dozen rivals looking to capitalise on satellite-to-broadband services including existing players Viasat, O3b, Eutelsat Konnect, Charlie Ergen’s Hughes/Echostar. Two extremely aggressive new players are Elon Musk’s Starlink system (a subsidiary of his SpaceX business), and Jeff Bezos’s Project Kuiper. Other players include O3b, OneWeb and Canadian Telesat.
Musk’s president & COO of his Starlink system, Gwynne Shotwell, speaking at Baron Funds’ investment event in New York, told Baron CEO Ron Baron that Bezos was “years behind” in getting his constellation into orbit.
She criticised Bezos’ wealth and said that the project’s ‘free money’ was a hindrance not a help, and that engineers do better when they are pushed harder over a tight period of time with very few resources.
Shotwell also had a few barbs for her rivals at OneWeb, saying that the SoftBank-backed enterprise would be expensive. “So, if you’re thinking about investing in OneWeb, I would recommend strongly against it. They fooled some people” who will be “pretty disappointed in the near term.”
Starlink is due to start services in 2020, and the US Air Force is already testing reception and transmissions on Starlink’s existing 60-satellite mini-fleet. Musk will be adding to launches this year and throughout 2020.