TAMPA, Fla. — Investors that rescued Anuvu from bankruptcy in March have thrown $50 million behind plans for the mobile connectivity provider to have its own constellation of small geostationary-orbit (GEO) satellites.

The growth capital will support the first two satellites Anuvu ordered in July from Astranis as part of a planned eight-strong constellation, building on a business that currently leases capacity from other operators to provide Wi-Fi on aircraft, boats and remote locations worldwide.

The one-meter-cubed satellites from San Francisco-based startup Astranis feature software-defined radios that can be reprogrammed in orbit. That flexibility would enable Anuvu to adapt its service as mobility markets face uncertainty from a pandemic that helped push the company into bankruptcy in July 2020.

Los Angeles-headquartered Anuvu, formerly known as Global Eagle, expects its first two digital payload satellites will be in service in early 2023 to cover North America and the Caribbean. The company is still assessing where to place the remaining six satellites.

“Additional satellites will focus on delivering high-speed, reliable connectivity to global mobility markets based on the geographical needs of our clients,” said Mike Pigott, Anuvu’s executive vice president for connectivity.

Astranis operates the spacecraft it builds, providing customers with capacity through long-term lease agreements. Its first commercial satellite Arcturus is slated to launch in early 2022 for U.S.-based telco Pacific Dataport Inc. (PDI).

Anuvu leases capacity on dozens of GEO satellites and intends to continue doing so as it develops a constellation through Astranis as part of a multi-orbit strategy that will see it lease bandwidth from low Earth orbit in 2024 from the Lightspeed network Canada’s Telesat is developing. 

Pigott said the $50 million funding commitment from existing investors including Apollo Capital Management, Sound Point Capital and Arbour Lane Capital Management “illustrates the strong support we have from our investor base in our strategy and management team.”

Despite a fresh round of COVID-19 travel restrictions introduced worldwide in recent days following the emergence of the Omicron variant, he said the company is optimistic about a return to growth for the mobility markets.

Anuvu has also secured board authorization for new equity as needed to expand its small GEO constellation plans.

“Mobility markets are back in a big way, and we see a compelling opportunity to expand our market share,” Pigott said.

“In terms of capital, our financial trajectory is robust, so we will only look to raise outside capital as needed.”

About half a dozen of Anuvu’s lenders took control of the company earlier this year to take it out of Chapter 11 protection

They invested about $218 million through a restructuring deal that nearly halved its near $1.1 billion debt load.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...