SPACE ODYSSEY

Mega Deal in Europe: Eutelsat wants to take over Starlink rival OneWeb

© OneWeb
© OneWeb

It would be the largest European attack on SpaceX’s Starlink or Amazon’s Kuiper project: the French satellite operator Eutelsat is said to be about to take over the British satellite internet provider OneWeb completely. Eutelsat already has a 23% stake in the British company.

According to OneWeb, it operates 648 satellites that orbit the earth in 18 synchronized orbits at an altitude of around 1,200 kilometers (Low Earth Orbit, LEO). Customers are to be found in the B2B environment – for example in aviation, in the military, or in shipping.

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According to insider circles, the deal could be officially announced as early as Monday. Eutelsat, which is 20% owned by French state-owned investment bank Bpifrance, would strengthen its low-orbit satellite sector, which provides ground-based internet coverage across a network of hundreds of small low-orbit satellites. Recently, for example, Elon Musk Starlink provided internet in Ukraine after infrastructure there was destroyed by Russian attacks.

EU Commission plans satellite initiative as Starlink competitor

If the deal goes through and is approved by competition authorities, France and Great Britain would move closer together in the satellite business. Because OneWeb was rescued from bankruptcy during the Corona pandemic by funds from the British government and Bharti Global from India. since then, the British state has held a stake of around 20% in OneWeb – if the company is now connected to Eutelsat, the UK would get a small minority stake there.

According to insiders, Great Britain should therefore also have veto rights over OneWeb, for example over customers who are classified as dangerous for security reasons and over the relocation of OneWeb’s headquarters, which should remain in London.

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