Eutelsat CEO: “Video broadcasting still important”
March 31, 2022
By Chris Forrester
New CEO Eva Berneke had only been aboard at Eutelsat for some nine weeks, but in her panel discussion at the recent Satellite 2022 show in Washington, she was well up to speed in regard to Eutelsat’s recent history and prospects for 2022.
Berneke highlighted last year’s investment in OneWeb – wrapped by previous CEO Rodolphe Belmer – as being a key strategic step for Eutelsat and a mechanism for Eutelsat to step into the constellation business.
“We are working with the OneWeb team on commercialising the asset,” she said.
But she didn’t want to ignore Eutelsat’s key clients in the broadcasting sector, commenting: “You’re at this crossroad where you still have a video broadcasting business that’s important and that will exist for a lot of years. There will be a lot of work to continue to innovate in that space. But it’s not going to see the same growth cycles as we’ve seen when you go back five or 10 years.”
“The new role for the satellite industry will make different demands,” Berneke added. “It’s a different type of metrics, when you move into the broadband connectivity or the networking space.”
She compared it to the pivot point many tech companies face, noting: “It’s like a lot of other big tech industries — all of a sudden, they meet this kind of crossroad of usage cases and application cases that also require a different set of competencies.”
Berneke highlighted Eutelsat’s Konnect service, with a major expansion when a larger Konnect VHTS (Very High Throughput Satellite) craft comes into service next year, explaining: “There is a market with a huge hunger for these broadband services and proving to us that if we can develop the right offerings on the right satellites then there’s a market out there. We need some partnerships to get [to that destination].”
Talking specifically about the European proposed low Earth orbit Public/Private scheme, she suggested that it might be necessary to work with other aspects of the overall industry including terrestrial players.
“Even an amount [like €7 billion] is not going to be nearly enough to finance the project and the ambitions that Europe has. The European space industry will have to come together to respond to this,” said Berneke.