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Bank reacts to SpaceX broadband-to-vehicles plan

March 10, 2021

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is seeking permission to launch its Starlink broadband-by-satellite service to moving vehicles.

Musk, in a Tweet, stressed that Starlink was not targeting Tesla or other cars, but aircraft, ships, large trucks and RVs; “Our terminal is much too big [for cars]” he said.

Sami Kassab, satellite analyst at investment bank Exane/BNPP, said in a note to clients that Starlink’s wish to enter the mobility market is not a total surprise given that the sector is the fastest-growing segment of the satellite industry.

Kassab said that Starlink’s current focus on consumer broadband will expand: “Inmarsat, SES, Intelsat are key players in mobility (aero and mobility) and will now face competition from SpaceX’s satellite constellation.”

“Starlink is also likely to compete for some US Department of Defense procurement contracts. Eutelsat [and its Konnect services] faces SpaceX’s Starlink in its consumer broadband project. While the Starlink (and Musk’s) brand is very strong in the consumer market, we believe that for the corporate market (airlines, cruise operators, telcos) it is likely to be less of a competitive advantage,” stated the bank.

“In the corporate market, we believe bandwidth economics will be a critical competitive advantage. In that segment, we continue to believe that SES mPower offers one of the most attractive proposition from a technical and economic point of view. Starlink entry into Mobility is likely to put some short-term [share price] pressure on Eutelsat and SES,” added Kassab.

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