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Viasat completes merger with Inmarsat

After two years dealing with regulatory delays, Viasat has finally completed its purchase of Inmarsat, producing a single company that has 8,000 employees and a fleet of nineteen operating satellites.

The key quote from the link however is this:

Their merger announcement sparked additional consolidation plans as operators look to bolster their defenses amid a growing competitive threat from Starlink in the satellite broadband market. Eutelsat announced plans to buy OneWeb in November 2022 and hopes to complete its merger this summer. SES and Intelsat confirmed March 29 they were in talks about merging, although they have not provided a meaningful update since then.

In other words, the older geosynchronous satellite companies are consolidating because of the competition posed by SpaceX’s Starlink system, which also suggests these companies have never competed very aggressively against each other to cut costs. Now that someone new (SpaceX) has arrived doing that, they find their only option is to merge. Apparently the corporate culture in each separate company finds cutting costs difficult. Merger appears to be their only avenue for doing so.

I wonder what will happen to these old satellite companies when (or if) Amazon finally begins launching and operating its own Kuiper constellation, in direct competition with SpaceX. Unless they finally begin to offer a competitive product at a competitive price, I expect after consolidation we will begin to see bankruptcies.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

One comment

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “I wonder what will happen to these old satellite companies when (or if) Amazon finally begins launching and operating its own Kuiper constellation, in direct competition with SpaceX.

    These heritage communication companies have worried about this for quite some time. Orders for geostationary satellites have been a bit off, the past few years, as these companies wait to see how the large constellations do and how much of the business they lose due to these constellations. This may be one of the reasons for the mergers.

    … which also suggests these companies have never competed very aggressively against each other to cut costs.

    I believe this is correct. Satellite communication companies have sometimes been monopolies in the regions that they cover. Inmarsat, for instance, has been the major provider for marine communications (mid-ocean ship to shore) for decades. Intelsat, however, had oceanic cables as its competitor. Satellite Television companies tend to compete with each other (e.g. Dish Network and Direct TV), and the ground competition is cable television companies (themselves monopolies in their own regions).

    In the U.S., airline deregulation was very hard on the heritage airlines. The heritage airlines were regulated and controlled (virtually run) by the government, making competition difficult. In the two decades after deregulation, most filed for bankruptcy at one time or another (and Continental more than once), and several stalwarts are no longer in business. Could the space newcomers do the same to the heritage space companies as the airline newcomers did four decades ago?

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