Eutelsat Communications (Paris:ETL) (Euronext Paris: ETL) has ordered a next-generation VHTS satellite system named KONNECT VHTS to support the development of its European fixed broadband and in-flight connectivity businesses.
The satellite, which is due to enter into service in 2021, will be built by Thales Alenia Space — the company will develop a satellite and ground segment solution that is, according to the firm, the most competitive on the market today. With a weight of 6.3 tons and a Ka-band capacity of 500 Gbps, KONNECT VHTS (Very High Throughput Satellite) will embark the most powerful on-board digital processor ever put in orbit, offering capacity allocation flexibility, optimal spectrum use, and progressive ground network deployment.
The project will be launched with firm multi-year distribution commitments from Orange and Thales, two key European players and leaders in their businesses. A retail partnership was signed with Orange to address the fixed broadband market in European countries where the Group has a retail presence, and a distribution partnership was inked with Thales to serve the government connectivity services market.
The investment in KONNECT VHTS replaces the project of a joint investment with ViaSat in a ViaSat 3 satellite for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and is covered by Eutelsat’s capex objective of an average of 420 million euros per annum.
Commenting on the contract, Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat, said that the company is delighted to sign this agreement with global partners, Orange and Thales, which confirms the place of satellite-based solutions in the drive for enhanced high-speed internet coverage. As a core complement to terrestrial broadband networks, high-speed broadband will be a critical driver of Eutelsat’s growth from 2020 onward. Over the next decade, VHTS satellites will bring enough capacity to serve high speed internet and in-flight connectivity markets at scale, offering fiber-like services both in terms of price and speed.
Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange, added that satellite is one of the technologies that contribute to building tomorrow's inclusive digital society, especially for delivering broadband connectivity in rural areas where it is sometimes challenging to set up traditional broadband networks. With this agreement, Orange's portfolio will be enhanced with very high speed internet solutions delivered by satellite, offering all of the company's customers across Europe digital services of premium quality.
Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO of Thales, noted that with this partnership, Thales is supporting France and Europe in their ambitious drive to ensure universal access to high speed broadband across their territories. He added that Thales is proud to provide to their long-standing partner, Eutelsat, a state-of-the-art satellite designed to serve fixed and mobile connectivity markets as well as supporting their own government customers for coverage of connectivity solutions across Europe. Built on our all-electric Spacebus NEO platform, the KONNECT VHTS satellite will be equipped with a flexible and digital VHTS payload embarking the latest innovations bolstered by the significant increase in our R&D investments and the ongoing government support from the CNES, the European Space Agency and the French investment program "Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir.”