France Rethinking Investment in Megasat SatelliteFrance Rethinks Plans for Megasat Broadband Satellite

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PARIS — A French government bond issue that had set aside $325 million for satellite broadband technologies, including a small Ka-band satellite, may be redirected toward locally managed subsidies for consumer broadband satellite terminals, a French government official said July 29.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, France’s state secretary for development of the digital economy, said it has proved difficult to win government consensus to spend the bond issue’s proceeds on a couple of large infrastructure projects such as the construction of a satellite.

In a presentation to a conference here organized by the Paris-based 3i3s institute on space applications, Kosciusko-Morizet said the government still intends to spend 250 million euros ($325 million) for broadband deployment. What technologies will be favored, she said, remains uncertain.

Kosciusko-Morizet did not mention the Megasat advanced Ka-band broadband project, which had been identified as one of the likely recipients of the money. She said that as the bond issue, now called “Investments with a Future,” has evolved, it has become clear that some regions of France would prefer medium-speed broadband immediately rather than a research effort on superfast broadband links.

She also said that despite France’s status as a space power and builder of satellites, many elected officials continue to view satellites as unreliable. She suggested that the satellite telecommunications and broadband sector still has much to do in correcting what she agreed is a mistaken public impression of satellite performance.

The government expects to reach a consensus on what kinds of broadband technologies and capabilities will be targeted for the investment package after consulting with the French parliament starting in September.

One aspect of the bond issue — the requirement of local government participation — will make it difficult to support any project that includes the construction of a satellite, she said. But it may be possible to ask local and regional authorities to purchase bandwidth for a satellite close to its launch date.

Paris-based satellite fleet operator Eutelsat has scheduled the launch of its large Ka-Sat broadband satellite late this year with satellite terminal builder ViaSat Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif., as a partner.