Comtech unveils software-defined VSAT platform

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TAMPA, Fla. — Comtech Telecommunications unveiled a software-defined VSAT platform Jan. 31 to expand in the ground station market, less than a week after rejecting a $790 million takeover offer so it can double down on its growth strategy.

According to the New York-headquartered communications equipment maker, its next-generation Elevate solution will include cloud-based network management and other virtualized solutions to keep pace with incoming multi-orbit satellite capabilities.

Elevate will be housed under Comtech Satellite Network Technologies Corp, one of two satellite-focused business lines the company announced Jan. 27 as part of its growth plan. 

Vagan Shakhgildian, the division’s recently appointed president, told SpaceNews the platform will commercially launch later this year.

It comes as Comtech reorganizes operations to strengthen its ability to win more commercial and government business in the ground station market, ahead of a flood of contracts it expects will be coming up for renewal this year.

Comtech Satellite Network Technologies Corp. was created as a Canadian company, and will be based in a technology center in Montreal that Shakhgildian said will be operational in “a matter of months.” The division will focus on network products for VSAT platforms.

Before joining Comtech last year, Shakhgildian was CEO of Canada-based VSAT network equipment maker UHP Networks, which Comtech acquired in March 2021.

As part of its reorganization, the company also established Comtech Satellite Network Technologies, Inc. as a U.S. corporation, which will focus on Earth station products and amplifiers. The business line is currently located at a production facility Comtech has in Santa Clara, California, but will soon expand into a site under development in Chandler, Arizona.

Daniel Gizinski, who has held multiple roles since joining Comtech in 2019 — including vice president of product and strategy for its managed services subsidiary Comtech Systems — is now president of the new satellite-focused business line that is based in the U.S.

Comtech said Jan. 25 that its board of directors had unanimously rejected a takeover approach from Californian investment firm Acacia Research Corp., which had submitted an offer in October to buy the company for $30 per share.

Acacia made the offer after Comtech’s stock had fallen to around $21 as its business suffered during the pandemic.

However, Comtech said the offer “grossly undervalues” the business, because it does not account for its ability to grow in a market that is being transformed by broadband megaconstellations, increasingly powerful geostationary satellites and other next-generation capabilities.

Comtech’s shares were trading at around $20.22 on the Nasdaq stock exchange as this article was published, after closing Jan. 28 at $19.73.