Eutelsat: The European Challenger Aiming To Outpace Starlink

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Eutelsat merging with OneWeb

Eva Berneke’s first year as CEO of Eutelsat, the world’s third-largest satellite company, has been nothing short of tumultuous. She’s transformed from leading a geostationary satellite operator to challenging formidable players like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the global satellite industry.

Transforming Eutelsat for a Competitive Future

When Berneke took the reins at Eutelsat in January 2022, the company was primarily engaged in broadcasting TV channels using geostationary satellites. However, the lucrative industry was shifting towards satellite internet services, challenging Eutelsat’s comfortable position. The challenge rocketed higher with the arrival of SpaceX’s Starlink, helmed by Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper.

Recognizing the tectonic industry shifts, Berneke spearheaded her own revolution to challenge the burgeoning competition.

Eutelsat’s Bold Move: The Merger with OneWeb

In a bid to revolutionise its operations, Eutelsat announced plans in July 2022 to merge with floundering British satellite provider, OneWeb. This transformative deal saw Eutelsat acquiring OneWeb’s array of 648 low-orbit satellites. These low-orbit satellites could provide faster internet speeds than Eutelsat’s geostationary satellites, marking a considerable upswing in the company’s capabilities and reaching previously inaccessible areas.

A New Era in the Satellite Market

Through this strategic merger, Eutelsat has plunged headfirst into the flourishing low-orbit satellite market. With an increased demand for satellite internet services, Eutelsat’s widening reach stands to benefit a broad spectrum of consumers—ranging from rural homes and independent vehicles to militaries and aviation companies. Berneke indicates that the market is larger than it appears, with even countries boasting high fiber and 5G coverage still finding a percentage of households without proper connectivity.

Navigating Political and Upgrade Challenges

Despite its promising prospects, Eutelsat must also tackle post-Brexit politics and technical enhancements in stride. Given that both Eutelsat and OneWeb were partially owned by their respective governments, ongoing cooperation will be crucial for business operations.

Furthermore, to compete on a global stage, Eutelsat plans on upgrading OneWeb’s Gen One satellites to more advanced versions by 2027. This ambitious project is expected to require an investment of around 3-4 billion euros ($3.3-4.4 billion).

A New Challenger Emerges

Berneke’s spirited drive has set Eutelsat on an adventurous path. The company is not only challenging established giants but also poised to become a robust European entity in the satellite industry race. Amidst all the twists and turns, the Eutelsat–OneWeb merger has expanded Eutelsat’s capabilities and has positioned it as the sole European competitor within the dynamic low-orbit market.

As Eutelsat navigates political hurdles and satellite upgrades, the world watches its thrilling trajectory from a stable geostationary satellite company to an audacious global player in the satellite internet industry.

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