FIRST UP Satcom | Viasat wins $122.5M FCC subsidy • Gilat suppling ground equipment for Yamal-601 • Avanti eyes DoD business with Comsat

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Viasat will receive $122.5 million in U.S. federal subsidies through the Connect America Fund, and is tasked with providing internet access to more sites than any of the other funding recipients. The Federal Communications Commission selected 103 internet service providers as part of the program’s phase two auction, which doles out $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to connect more than 700,000 homes and businesses. Viasat was the only satellite operator selected, and has the highest number of locations to connect: 190,595 sites across 20 states. Internet service providers have three years to connect 40 percent of the sites, with full buildout completed by the end of the sixth year. [FCC]

Gazprom Space Systems signed an $18 million contract with Gilat for gateways and VSAT terminals for the operator’s upcoming Ka-band satellite Yamal-601. Gilat will provide two SkyEdge 2-c gateways and “tens of thousands” of user terminals to enable new broadband services across the European and Asian regions of Russia. The two companies also agreed to study connectivity for aircraft and trains. Yamal-601 launches in 2019 on a Proton rocket, and is a replacement for Yamal-202, one of Gazprom’s four satellites. [Gazprom Space Systems]

British satellite operator Avanti and U.S. service provider Comsat signed a seven-year distribution agreement that ushers Avanti into the U.S. defense communications business. Avanti said the deal brings “immediate access to US global governmental and military activity that may otherwise take multiple years to gain approval to serve.” Hylas-4, Avanti’s newest satellite, enters service next month with capacity over Africa and the Middle East. Avanti expects the satellite will be beneficial for Comsat. [London Stock Exchange]

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Kepler Communications is starting the process of finding launch providers for its Gen-1 constellation of up to 15 cubesats. The company says it needs to have its fleet in orbit by the third quarter of 2020 to meet customer commitments. Kepler envisions launching most of the satellites in groups of five to seven on two operational rockets, but is not opposed to launching one or more on a new vehicle. By the end of 2022, Kepler intends to have a constellation of 140 cubesats for Internet of Things connectivity and in-space data relay. [SpaceNews]

Satellite communications provider Speedcast is buying Globecomm for $135 million to expand its government services business. The deal, announced Tuesday and expected to close by the end of the year, will double Speedcast’s revenues from government customers and expand its presence in the maritime market. Speedcast calls itself the largest independent buyer of satellite capacity, with leases on more than 70 satellites. The company started moving into the government services market with its acquisition of UltiSat last year. [SpaceNews]

Phasor says it has customer commitments topping $300 million for the flat electronically steered antennas it is developing. The contracts are for several years of deliveries, and come with exclusivity for target markets. “These contracts demonstrate Phasor’s progression from a technology development firm to a products company,” Phasor CEO David Helfgott said in a statement. [Phasor]

The first launch of OneWeb satellites could slip into early 2019. The company planned to launch a first batch of 10 satellites on a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana in December, but OneWeb founder Greg Wyler said that launch could “move back a month or so” because of other missions on Arianespace’s manifest. The contracted launch window for the mission is between Dec. 18 and Feb. 19, and Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said it will launch the OneWeb satellites as soon as possible “taking into account its other contractual commitments.” The launch is the first of 21 Soyuz missions OneWeb purchased to deploy its initial satellite constellation, with later launches carrying as many as 36 satellites. [SpaceNews]

Telesat’s newest satellite has entered commercial service about a month following its launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Telstar-19 Vantage covers the Americas with a mix of regional wide beams in Ku-band and smaller, high-throughput spot beams in Ku and Ka-band. Built by Space Systems Loral, the satellite enables internet connectivity for consumers, stores, offices and mobile platforms like boats and airplanes. [MarketWatch]

A former Intelsat executive is the new head of the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) industry group. David Meltzer will be the new GVF secretary general, succeeding David Hartshorn, who left the organization in June after 20 years to run the non-governmental organization Geeks Without Frontiers. Meltzer was most recently general counsel and chief international officer of the American Red Cross, but previously worked at Intelsat for 16 years and Terrestar Networks for five years. Meltzer said his priority is to raise awareness of the satellite industry and advocate on its behalf. [SpaceNews]