Advanced Television

IRIS2 in trouble already?

February 19, 2024

The EU’s giant IRIS2 broadband by satellite plan is already facing challenges. IRIS2 (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite) is the European Union’s answer to “pressing challenge of tomorrow, offering enhanced communication capacities to governmental users, businesses, while ensuring high-speed internet broadband to cope with connectivity dead zones.”

But there are problems for this proposed rival to Starlink. A consortium (SpaceRise) has been formed comprising Europe’s largest satellite operators and service providers SES, Eutelsat, Hispasat, Thales and others is facing hurdles.

For example, the German government is said to be extremely concerned that it has a smaller role in the consortium than it expected. There are also unconfirmed reports that the scheme could cost as much as €25 billion over the lifetime of the consortium.

German newspaper Handelsblatt said: “Two years after the announcement of the project, an industrial consortium is to submit a binding offer to the EU Commission on the technical design [this week]. There are no competitors. German companies are only marginally mentioned in it, but a number of French ones. Germany is protesting against what is described as “the Francocentric monopolistic consortium and high cost of the project”.

The SpaceRise consortium was expected to deliver its submission to the EU on February 16th, but requested a few days delay.

One French source (La Lettre) said on February 16th: “Behind the scenes, doubts are emerging about the financial viability of this project, which dreams of competing with Elon Musk’s Starlink.”

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton says he expects IRIS2 proposal to be at €8.5 billion but SpaceRise is demanding €11.5 billion. while Eutelsat has signalled that its €1.8 billion cost estimate for OneWeb’s Gen2 satellites, suitably modified to suit the EU’s requirements, would be a better alternative.

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