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Satnews Daily
October 30th, 2019

Forrester Reports: Disappointing Financials for Intelsat, Plus, Musk Years Ahead of Bezos in the Satellite Race

Chris Forrester.

Chris Forrester has posted at Advanced Television that Intelsat  released its Q3 financial numbers and reported revenues of $506.7 million (€457.2 million), down 6 percent with a net loss of $148.3 million.

CEO Steve Spengler said that Intelsat was experiencing “improving trends with respect to new business for wireless infrastructure on several continents.

Contracted backlog as of September 30th was $7.2 billion, as compared to $7.5 billion on June 30th, reflecting a $60 million reduction related to reduced revenue expectations from a certain media customer in Europe and an early termination of a managed service for a North America media customer.

Intelsat reminded investors of the successful launch of their I-39 craft, which entered service on October 14th. Anchor customers include the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications, for which Intelsat 39 provides a major source of domestic broadband Infrastructure.

A statement from Intelsat read, “On October 9, 2019, Northrop Grumman’s in-space servicing vehicle, Mission Extension Vehicle 1, or MEV-1, successfully launched, and it is now headed towards a rendezvous and docking with the Intelsat 901 satellite. MEV-1 is designed to extend the life of deployed satellites where the existing technology is still viable for the applications served. Because it defers the need to deploy new satellites, MEV-1 will enable Intelsat to redeploy capital into other areas of our business and optimize our capital expenditures for future innovation. With the first phase of the mission complete, Intelsat and Northrop Grumman say they now shift their focus to the most critical parts of the mission—rendezvous and docking—which are expected to occur over the next three months.”

Chris also posted that there are almost a dozen rivals looking to capitalize on satellite-to-broadband services, including existing players Viasat, O3b, Eutelsat Konnect and Charlie Ergen’s Hughes/Echostar. Two extremely aggressive new players are Elon Musk and his firm's Starlink system (a subsidiary of Musk's SpaceX business), and Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper. Other players include O3b, OneWeb and Canadian Telesat.

Musk’s President and COO of his Starlink system, Gwynne Shotwell, speaking at a Baron Funds’ investment event in New York, told Baron CEO Ron Baron that Bezos was “years behind” in getting his constellation into orbit.

She criticized Bezos’ wealth and said that the project’s ‘free money’ was a hindrance, not a help, and that engineers do better when they are pushed harder over a tight period of time with very few resources at hand.

Shotwell also had a few barbs for her rivals at OneWeb, saying that the SoftBank-backed enterprise would be expensive. “So, if you’re thinking about investing in OneWeb, I would recommend strongly against it. They fooled some people” who will be “pretty disappointed in the near term.”

Starlink is due to start services in 2020, and the U.S. Air Force is already testing reception and transmissions on Starlink’s existing 60 satellite mini-fleet.  Musk will be adding to launches this year and throughout 2020.