Advanced Television

SES and Eutelsat selected for IRIS2

January 17, 2024

By Chris Forrester

The European Commission (EC), in a press briefing, confirmed that its planned IRIS² satellite connectivity project has selected ‘SpaceRise’ which currently comprises operators SES and Eutelsat and is the only bidding consortium. The EC said that the project is on track and a contract can now be signed on or before March 24th.

Certain further negotiations must now take place but the basic timetable will see the consortium handle the multi-orbit constellation for a period of 12 years. The project requires geostationary, MEO and LEO satellites.

Also part of the consortium are Hispasat and Airbus.

Thierry Breton, the EC Commissioner in charge of IRSI², has suggested that co-investments from SpaceRise now “looks assured”. One key element yet to be revealed is how the ‘smaller participants’ (and initially said to consist of 30 per cent of the project’s value/membership) will be structured.

France has committed additional funding under its France 2030 investment plan (and believed to be about €300 million) while the European Space Agency is also part-funding the project to the tune of some €644 million. Overall costs, however, are placed at something between €6 billion and €10 billion.

IRIS² is seen as part of the European Union increase in Defense and Military spending especially with the war in Ukraine in mind. Commercial broadband also figures in the scheme.

Investment bank BNPP, in a note to clients, stated: “The main question in our view remains the amount of investments SES (we are positive on SES) and Eutelsat (we are negative) will have to invest and what return the EC project is likely to generate. We continue to expect investments to be in line with expectations and IRIS² to generate additional revenues and an attractive financial returns to European satellite operators. We continue to prefer SES over Eutelsat.”

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