Facebook, Hughes start Colombian Wi-Fi service • Ariane 6 supplier GKN Aerospace cutting 1,000 jobs
To receive FIRST UP Satcom, a weekly SpaceNews newsletter for satellite and telecom professionals, sign up here.
Facebook has partnered with Hughes Network Systems to launch a satellite-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot service in Colombia. The service provides prepaid internet access using terminals from Hughes and Express Wi-Fi, a Facebook software platform designed to help providers build, operate and monetize Wi-Fi services. Hughes said the program enables local merchants to offer internet access throughout the country. Hughes said its customers have deployed more than 32,000 satellite-enabled community Wi-Fi hotspots across Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Russia, reaching more than 25 million people. [Hughes]
GKN Aerospace, an ArianeGroup supplier, is cutting 1,000 jobs from a global staff of 18,000 as part of a restructuring. Those plans predate the start of an 8 billion pound ($11 billion) hostile takeover by Melrose in 2018. Melrose, facing scrutiny from the British government, said it would continue to invest in GKN and keep Melrose’s headquarters and stock market listing in the U.K. The restructuring plans, according to GKN Aerospace, are part of an earlier initiative to combine its four divisions into one. [The Guardian/Reuters]
SES has developed a solution that synchronizes broadcasts over satellite and over-the-top streaming services so that video content arrives at the same time. The product, called “Satellite and OTT in sync,” eliminates the few seconds of delay between satellite broadcasts and OTT streaming platforms for live events. “When a fan is watching an important match on an OTT platform and they hear the crowd at the bar down the street cheering before they even see the goal, the disappointment is palpable,” Ferdinand Kayser, CEO of SES Video, said in a news release. “Being a hybrid video distributor, SES can process video at the source for both satellite and OTT distribution, helping broadcasters deliver a unique, consistent, and satisfying end-user experience.” [SES]
Spanish space company GMV is developing a high-precision satellite-based positioning system for German carmaker BMW to use in self-driving vehicles. GMV said it has modified software for calculating a vehicle’s position, along with other information, to meet performance and safety requirements from BMW Group. The terms of the contract were not disclosed. GMV is a supplier for ground elements of the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation constellation. [GMV]
Satellite constellation company Astrocast has raised $9.2 million in a new funding round as it seeks to expand the size of its fleet. The Swiss company raised the Series A round, announced Wednesday, from what it described as a mix of existing and new investors that it did not disclose. Astrocast originally planned a constellation of 64 satellites to provide Internet of Things services, but now plans to launch 80 satellites. Astrocast has two demonstration satellites in orbit, with the first five operational satellites scheduled for launch in spring 2020. [SpaceNews]
OneWeb reiterated that the arctic will be the first place to receive its megaconstellation broadband services. The company said it will start delivering 375 Gbps of capacity above 60 degrees latitude starting in 2020. OneWeb’s satellites operate in polar orbits, meaning their coverage is most tightly concentrated at the poles, fanning out as they transit the equator. Arctic markets above 60 degrees north include Norway, Finland, Canada, Russia and Alaska — the latter being a state OneWeb has frequently cited as a starting point for service. OneWeb said it will provide coverage over the estimated 48% of the arctic that lacks broadband connectivity. Gateway antennas in Alaska and Norway will be fully operational by January, OneWeb said. [OneWeb]
Eutelsat has dropped out of an industry group seeking a deal to transfer C-band spectrum in the United States as a decision about that spectrum looms. Eutelsat said it was withdrawing from the C-Band Alliance, a group that includes fellow satellite operators Intelsat, SES and Telesat, saying it wanted “direct involvement” regarding the future of satellite C-band spectrum. The C-Band Alliance has proposed the sale of 200 megahertz of C-band spectrum to companies and organizations who want to use it for high-speed 5G wireless networks in the United States. The FCC is expected to decide on how to open up the band to multiple users this fall. [SpaceNews]
Luxembourg-based radio-frequency mapping company Kleos Space has won an Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award. The contract tasks Kleos Space with preparing a feasibility study focused on dual-purpose technologies and solutions that meet a clear Air Force need. Kleos Space did not state the value of the contract, but said it positions the company to pursue a Phase 2 award worth up to 1.36 million euros ($1.5 million). Kleos Space is awaiting the launch of its first spacecraft aboard a Rocket Lab Electron by this fall. [Kleos Space]
A close encounter between an ESA spacecraft and a Starlink satellite has heightened concerns about space sustainability. Even before Monday’s close approach, some in industry were raising the issue of how to operate large satellite fleets safely in space. OneWeb unveiled a concept called “Responsible Space” this summer, outlining its view of how it will ensure safe space operations that it believes can serve as a model for others. On Tuesday, SpaceX said it had decided not to move its Starlink satellite because initial predictions showed only a very low risk of a conjunction with ESA’s Aeolus satellite. The company said it missed updates that increased the risk of a collision because “a bug in our on-call paging system prevented the Starlink operator from seeing the follow on correspondence on this probability increase.” [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.