TAMPA, Fla. — Viasat’s $7.3 billion Inmarsat takeover could lead to more expensive and poorer quality Wi-Fi for plane passengers, the U.K.’s competition watchdog said Oct. 6 as it prepared to launch a full-scale probe of the deal.

The satellite operators have until Oct. 13 to offer a solution to allay the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) concerns, or face an in-depth investigation that could push the timeframe for closing the deal well into next year.

The CMA’s initial assessment found the two satellite operators are “currently the strongest” providers of inflight connectivity (IFC) available to airlines.

While SpaceX, OneWeb, and other new players plan to provide IFC services from non-geostationary orbit (NGSO), the CMA is uncertain any of them could effectively compete against the merged company.

SpaceX won a contract with Hawaiian Airlines in April to provide Wi-Fi services next year. Still, the regulator believes NGSO operators “face many financial, operational, technical, regulatory, and commercial barriers before they can supply IFC services on board aircraft.”

Incentives to overcome these barriers are not unlimited, the CMA added, and NGSO operators still need to see if they can achieve a return on investment in aviation. 

Because it is difficult for airlines to switch providers once they have installed IFC antennas on their aircraft, the watchdog is also concerned Viasat and Inmarsat could lock out a large part of the customer base before services from NGSO become credible.

Viasat and Inmarsat’s IFC businesses are vertically integrated, giving them tighter control of the prices they charge for their services.

IFC first-mover Panasonic’s high share of supply is declining because it relies on third-party satellite operators for capacity, according to CMA, “and airlines’ perception that it is expensive and offers old technology.”

Anuvu seeks to deploy its own constellation to support IFC services it provides through leasing capacity from third-party satellites; however, the watchdog said it “competes only for short-haul flights and is considered a weak option by airlines.” 

Intelsat “occupies a modest position in the market,” the regulator continued “and it is uncertain how it will develop in the future” following the operator’s emergence from bankruptcy in February. 

Intelsat recently signed a global distribution deal with OneWeb to provide multi-orbit inflight connectivity solutions for airlines by 2024.

Viasat had said it was possible it could close its acquisition of Inmarsat by the end of 2022, however, an in-depth investigation from the CMA can take several months to complete.

California-based Viasat and London-headquartered Inmarsat did not indicate any plan to offer remedies in a joint statement following the regulator’s announcement. 

“There is no lack of competition in satellite connectivity for the aviation sector,” Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri said.

“Strong players are already offering” IFC, he added, and NGSO “players —which already operate over half the satellite broadband capacity available globally—are aggressively and successfully targeting aviation.”

He said the merged group “will be well-placed to invest in the technologies needed to meet the growing needs of aviation customers and compete” with NGSO operators and others.

Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg said the CMA’s decision to open a more in-depth investigation “is not unexpected, even though IFC represents less than 10% of the revenues of the combined company.”

He said: “This is still a nascent, dynamic, and rapidly evolving business, with existing providers and extremely well-financed new entrants bringing new technologies and new business models to increase adoption among airlines, passengers, and aircraft types.”

The operators announced their proposed deal in November, and it has already secured several key approvals from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, including British national security clearance and permission from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

However, the takeover remains subject to clearances from authorities in addition to the CMA, including the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department.

In July, the European Commission said the deal also needs antitrust approval from the European Union.

NEWS RELATED

SpaceX reveals 'Starshield' satellite project for national security use

Starshield will leverage SpaceX's Starlink broadband technology for government customers.

View more: SpaceX reveals 'Starshield' satellite project for national security use

Space Force procurement chief emphatic about the ‘need for speed’

Frank Calvelli said traditional contracts where the government bears the risks and pays for cost overruns will no longer be acceptable WASHINGTON — Frank Calvelli, assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration, told an audience of space entrepreneurs that he is trying to drive a ...

View more: Space Force procurement chief emphatic about the ‘need for speed’

A new Hubble Image Reveals a Shredded Star in a Nearby Galaxy

The Hubble Space Telescope, to which we owe our current estimates for the age of the universe and the first detection of organic matter on an exoplanet, is very much doing science and still alive. It’s latest masterpiece remixes an old hit – apparently a growing trend in science ...

View more: A new Hubble Image Reveals a Shredded Star in a Nearby Galaxy

Will We Ever Go Back to Explore the Ice Giants? Yes, If We Keep the Missions Simple and Affordable

It’s been over 35 years since a spacecraft visited Uranus and Neptune. That was Voyager 2, and it only did flybys. Will we ever go back? There are discoveries waiting to be made on these fascinating ice giants and their moons. But complex missions to Mars and the Moon ...

View more: Will We Ever Go Back to Explore the Ice Giants? Yes, If We Keep the Missions Simple and Affordable

Mangata Networks gets funds for Scottish satellite manufacturing hub

TAMPA, Fla. — Mangata Networks, the U.S.-based startup founded by a former OneWeb executive, said Dec. 5 it signed a $100 million financing deal to build a manufacturing facility in Scotland for its multi-orbit broadband constellation. The facility at Prestwick International Aerospace Park, located in the Ayrshire region near Glasgow, ...

View more: Mangata Networks gets funds for Scottish satellite manufacturing hub

Amazon tests machine learning software to analyze satellite images from space

Artificial intelligence in space can revolutionize Earth-observation.

View more: Amazon tests machine learning software to analyze satellite images from space

Listen to the Artemis 1 Orion capsule phone home from deep space

Orion broadcasts its data signal toward Earth, where it is received by NASA's Deep Space Network, but amateur observers can also tune in throughout the mission.

View more: Listen to the Artemis 1 Orion capsule phone home from deep space

U.S. Dept of Energy Breakthrough: Detecting Dark Matter With Quantum Computers

In a new breakthrough, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab have found a way to detect dark matter using quantum computers. Dark matter makes up about 27% of the matter and energy budget in the universe, but scientists do not know much about it. They do know that ...

View more: U.S. Dept of Energy Breakthrough: Detecting Dark Matter With Quantum Computers

Evidence of a Megatsunami on Mars

What time will the moon eclipse Mars on Dec. 7?

Defense, Commerce Departments select companies to prototype space traffic management solutions

Solar cycle peak reduces cosmic rays around Mars, Venus and Earth

NASA's Artemis 1 Orion Captures Scenic Shots With the Moon

NASA's revolutionary Moonboard launched Artemis 1 coverage to new heights

Not Just Stars. Gaia Mapped a Diverse and Shifting Universe of Variable Objects

Mars helicopter Ingenuity soars higher than ever on 35th Red Planet flight

Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft captures moon craters in stunning flyby footage (video)

BYD Ute will have 'Australian pulse': Local experts will help design and testing of all-electric Toyota HiLux rival from China

NASA's Artemis 1 Orion snaps gorgeous moon views as it sails over Apollo landing sites (video)

How much of the universe is dark matter?

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network