SpaceX, Kuiper challenge Viasat/Inmarsat deal
June 15, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Viasat of California is in the process of buying London-based Inmarsat for some $7.3 billion (€6.9bn). SpaceX is formally complaining to the FCC and says that Viasat has violated FCC rules and should not be given permission to control another company’s assets. Jeff Bezos’s Kuiper Systems is also complaining to the FCC over the Viasat/Inmarsat deal.
SpaceX has also raised $1.685 billion in fresh capital. It actually offered $1.724 billion, and thus leaves $39.99 million still to be raised/allocated.
In particular SpaceX says that Viasat should not be allowed to take over Inmarsat’s transmission licences.
“This is a blatant violation of the Commission’s rules, causing harm to the operations of others. SpaceX filed a complaint citing this unauthorised use of the spectrum nearly a year ago, and filed a related request for an order to show cause nearly two years ago. Nonetheless, Viasat has continued its use of this spectrum in disregard of clear FCC requirements and of the corresponding harm these violations are causing,” states the objection from SpaceX.
SpaceX is also arguing that Viasat is unfit to control Inmarsat’s FCC-approved ground terminals because Viasat is allegedly in violation of its own FCC licenses by using a radio frequency band without having met certain FCC conditions. Viasat has deployed some 4 million modem units.
SpaceX’s senior director for satellite policy, David Goldman, stated in the filing: “The public interest is not served by giving a company with such blatant disregard for the Commission’s rules control over the Inmarsat satellite system.”
Viasat responded, saying: “Viasat has previously refuted SpaceX’s baseless claims at length. There is nothing new here. We continue to believe that the transaction will serve the public interest and remain confident that the FCC will reach that same conclusion after reviewing the complete record.”
The Bezos complaint says: “As filed, the proposed transaction would violate the Commission’s prohibition against entities holding multiple dormant satellite authorizations in the same frequency band. Viasat holds an authorization for a licensed-but-unbuilt V-band system, and its modification application for its V-band system remains pending.”