European satellite operator SES has raised €300m to develop and launch three software defined satellites into orbit to provide high speed broadband across Europe.
The financing comes from the European Investment Bank (EIB) as a seven year loan for the design, procurement and launch of three previously announced satellites to be developed by Thales Alenia Space. The satellites will deliver advanced broadcast and broadband services spanning Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The loan is the largest amount ever provided by the EIB to a Luxembourg-based company.
The deal is significant as it sees financing following the EU space strategy as a key area of sovereign technology development and is also driven by the Gigabit Society targets of the European Commission that all households in Europe shall have access to at least 100 Mbit/s internet connectivity by 2025.
The satellites will operate from SES’s prime TV neighbourhood of 19.2 degrees East (ASTRA 1P, ASTRA 1Q) and 57 degrees East (SES-26) to provide dynamic, broadband connectivity for companies and governments from the heart of Europe across Africa and the Middle East. Two of the three satellites are next-generation, flexible and fully software-defined satellites that will enable service reconfiguration and instant in-orbit adjustment to SES customers’ demands.
All three geostationary satellites, when launched in 2024, will be operated from SES’s headquarters in Luxembourg which includes the data downlink. These differ from the broadband satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) launched by SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon Kuiper by remaining in one place in relation to the Earth’ surface and potentially supply more stable, higher speed links. This is a key advantage of the SES orbital slots.
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“Space technology, data and services have become indispensable in the lives of Europeans. I am therefore very enthusiastic about this agreement with SES, which directly supports the EU space policy,” said EIB Vice-President Kris Peeters.
“It is a big step in the successful launch of a new generation of satellites able to deliver advanced broadcast and broadband services for the benefit of both the private and public sectors in Western Europe and beyond,” he said. “Space is a key driver of innovation in Europe and we are eager to support space entrepreneurship. The size of the loan, the largest ever provided by the EIB to a Luxembourgish company, also demonstrates how strategically important the space sector is for the EIB and the European Union.”
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Sandeep Jalan, Chief Financial Officer of SES, said, “We are very happy to have secured this term loan from the European Investment Bank. This diversifies SES’s sources of financing on attractive financial terms.”
“The agreement enables us to deliver on our commitment to broadcast high-quality content from our prime TV neighbourhood serving 118 million TV households across France, Germany and Western Europe. These next-generation satellites are also able to support the most ambitious plans for companies and governments across Europe and beyond, enabling them to enter the new era of networked connectivity services,” he added.