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Intelsat outlines future; plans for MEO

March 20, 2024

David Wajsgras, CEO at Intelsat, used his Keynote at the Washington Satellite 2024 show to explain how the satellite giant was changing from its past role, albeit important global supplier of bandwidth, to what he saw as new opportunities. Included in his discussion was news that Intelsat was close to deciding on a Medium-Earth orbiting constellation (MEO).

Wajsgras, which had last year’s merger with SES happened would have been the CEO at the combined company, told delegates that Intelsat was changing to provide full-scale, end-to-end solutions for its clients and was looking forward to greater use of Medium Earth orbiting and in particular direct-to-user connectivity.

“When I joined in April 2022, it was still a strong culture in our company,” he said. “The technology had continued to advance [buy] when I came in, we did a deeper dive on the strategy, we pivoted. And today, broadly speaking, we are operating quite well in all of our different verticals.”

As to the expansion into MEO, he said: “We’ve had many conversations with senior people in the government, primarily on the military side. They are quite interested in what we are contemplating with a MEO constellation.”

Intelsat’s rationale was based on simple facts. He said the addressable market for satellite bandwidth was about $12-$14 billion. He said the addressable market for connectivity was much broader.

He explained the background to some of Intelsat’s recent decisions, not least its purchase of Gogo’s Commercial Aviation business in 2020. That decision has since seen Intelsat gain valuable contracts with the likes of American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, and plenty of others.

Key to that decision was access to Eutelsat’s OneWeb constellation. “In the fourth quarter of last year, we won more business through our multi-orbit offering than we did the prior three years combined with a single orbit offering,” said Wajsgras.

The MEO decision was close, Wajsgras confirmed, and would be made by the end of Q2. He was coy on the full details but said that there were interested parties which could provide financial participation.

He also addressed the growing interest in direct-to-device connectivity and valued the sector as being worth $20 billion-plus over the next 5-10 years. Wajsgras said that Intelsat was developing a direct-to-handset offering.

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