[Eutelsat Group, the new global Internet satellite giant…

This Thursday, September 28, will be a milestone in the conquest of the rural Internet. Eutelsat shareholders, gathered at the headquarters of the leading European satellite company, approved the acquisition of the British OneWeb for an amount estimated at 3.4 billion euros. This green light creates the world's number two in satellite connectivity behind the American Starlink, a subsidiary of SpaceX. Named Eutelsat Group, the new group aims for a turnover of around 2 billion euros in 2027.

The durability of the multitrack

The formalization of this merger ends a long episode, which began in July 2022 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. On paper, the merger of the two agencies makes sense because of the complementarity of the two players. A historic operator under French law created in 1977, Eutelsat has placed a fleet of 39 geostationary (GEO) satellites in orbit, at a distance of 36,000 km, covering Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

For its part, OneWeb chose to deploy a constellation of approximately 618 satellites in low orbit (LEO), i.e. at an altitude of a few hundred kilometers. This positioning allows it, like competitor Starlink, to provide high-speed, low-latency communications services at an affordable price.

The entry of Eutelsat in April 2021 in the capital of OneWeb has already enabled the development of new combined services combining hybrid GEO/LEO solutions. ” A multipath communication plan guarantees the end user primary, secondary, backup and emergency connectivity in the event of disruption or unavailability of a given network for any reason.explains Eutelsat.

A $16 billion market by 2030

Bringing the two operators together will allow us to go much further. In addition to the expected cost reductions – over €1.5 billion in long-term synergies – the pooling of resources will encourage future investment. This will include the completion of the deployment of OneWeb's fleet of Gen 1 satellites and the start of deployment of the so-called second generation (Gen 2) constellation, expected from 2025.

Above all, it is a matter of entering the fast-growing satellite Internet market. A market which, according to Eutelsat, is expected to more than triple in value, from $4.3 billion to $16 billion in 2030. The share of non-geostationary satellites is expected to grow about two and a half times faster, accounting for almost half of this market, even until 2030.

Satellite connectivity makes it possible to fill white areas, in the open countryside, in the mountains or on the open sea, not covered by wired (optical fiber, cable, ASDL) or non-wired (4G, 5G, THD Radio) networks. With its first generation of satellites, OneWeb claims download speeds of up to 195 Mbps for an average overall latency of 70 ms.

Take up space against Starlink and Kuiper

It's also pulling the rug out from under Starlink. Owned by multi-billionaire Elon Musk, the operator is currently spearheading Star Wars. With one launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket every four days, it has already built a constellation of 5,000 satellites and plans to deploy about 30,000 more.

You should also rely on Kuiper from Amazon. By showing clear delay, the latter will be tempted to work harder. The first two demonstration satellites of its constellation should be launched in early October. Vodafone has already announced that it will work with Kuiper to expand the reach of its 4G and 5G networks in Europe and Africa.

In this battle, the Eutelstat Group will be able to leverage OneWeb's anchoring in the worlds of business, government, aviation and shipping. According to a press release last October, OneWeb's turnover is expected to reach 50 million euros in fiscal year 2023, 150 to 250 million euros in 2024, 300 to 500 million euros in 2025 and exceed 600 million euros in 2027.

The new group will also retain Eutelsat's historical broadcasting and television operations while providing new native video over IP services at the intersection of broadband and broadcast television.

In terms of governance, the Eutelsat Group, which will remain headquartered in Paris, will be managed by Dane Eva Berneke, CEO of Eutelsat from January 1, 2022. Her OneWeb counterpart, Neil Masterson, “ will continue its mission until the end of the year to ensure the successful integration of the two companies. »

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