Advanced Television

Sat-operators slam would-be constellations

December 16, 2021

By Chris Forrester

The likes of Steve Collar, CEO at SES, have heavily criticised the 2021 trend to propose massive satellite constellations.

Specifically, Collar had in mind the recent Rwanda proposal, with advice supplied by OneWeb founder Greg Wyler, for 327,230 orbiting satellites in low Earth orbit.

Collar, speaking at the Euroconsult World Satellite Business Week in Paris, said that governments need to establish rules to curtail such systems. However, the Rwanda scheme has its government’s support.

Another would-be super-operator is Canada-based Kepler which used the German government’s official licensing body to file a proposed system comprising 115,000 satellites.

“My view is, this is what happens when there are no penalties for bad behaviour, or behaviour not entirely consistent with the way the industry has behaved up to a certain point in time,” said Collar, during a panel discussion in Paris. “As a result, we’ve got a whole bunch of exuberant filings, most of which won’t happen.”

Eutelsat’s deputy CEO Michel Azibert joined in the criticism, saying: “From an economic standpoint, an overcapacity standpoint, these extreme filings do not make any sense. If you start doubling or tripling the capacity, it doesn’t make any sense.” Azibert added that the risk of orbital collision are exponential. “We should not be captured by the hype and say the more constellations the better for mankind, because it’s not true. It’s the contrary, in my opinion.”

Mark Dankberg, chairman of Viasat of California, was scathing saying that filings (to the FCC or ITU) are becoming increasingly irrelevant and one of the main problems was that neither the FCC or ITU had enforcement rules covering orbital congestion.

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