NBN gets praise for Sky Muster data plans • OHB revenues on the rise • U.S. pay-TV subs in decline
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Australian farmers are celebrating the start of less restrictive satellite internet from the country’s twin Sky Muster broadband satellites. NBN, operator of the Ka-band satellites, announced Sky Muster Plus Aug. 11, providing an option for homes and business to continue “essential online activities” such as email after reaching data caps on bandwidth intensive recreational activities such as video streaming. Tony Mahar, chief executive of the National Farmers’ Federation, described the plans as a “fantastic development that reflects NBN Co’s willingness to take on board, and respond to customer needs.”
German satellite manufacturer and rocket hardware provider OHB reported 425 million euros ($474 million) in revenue for the first six months of 2019, up 5% from the same time last year. The company, which builds Europe’s Galileo satellites and supplies Ariane 6 hardware, saw an 8.5% increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to 36 million euros. OHB said it expects to generate 1.05 billion euros in revenue this year. The company’s backlog stood at 2.06 billion euros. [OHB]
Pay-TV providers in the United States are losing subscribers regardless of whether they use satellite or cable, according to a report. Around 855,000 subscribers ditched their satellite television subscriptions during the second quarter of 2019, up from around 480,000 subscribers in 2Q 2018. The top seven cable companies in the U.S. lost roughly 455,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2019, compared to 275,000 who ditched their subscriptions in 2Q 2018. Leichtman Research Group measured subscriber bases among firms representing 93% of the U.S. pay-TV market. Those pay-TV companies, which include DirecTV and Dish, have roughly 86.6 million subscribers in total. [Broadband TV News]
China’s launch of a quantum-encrypted communications satellite in 2016 should be viewed as a new “Sputnik moment,” according to a Japanese professor. The satellite, nicknamed Mozi, remains unrivaled, and shows China’s leadership in a technology that can securely transmit military and diplomatic information, Aoki Setsuko, a professor at the Keio University Law School, said. “With this achievement China has left America in the dust,” she said. “For the United States, this is comparable in seriousness to the Soviet success in the race to launch the first artificial satellite. And so it seems appropriate to call it the twenty-first century’s Sputnik moment.” [Nippon]
Intelsat will provide satellite broadband services in Central Africa through an agreement with Stratosat Datacom, a division of the Schauenburg International Group in Germany. Together Intelsat and satellite networking company Stratosat will provide virtual private networking connectivity in areas without reliable communications infrastructure. [Intelsat]
A startup planning an Internet of Things satellite constellation expects to have four prototypes in orbit by the end of the year. Lacuna Space has one payload in orbit, launched in April on a satellite shared with another IoT startup, Spaceworks Global, and has three more slated for launch by the end of the year. The company eventually plans to deploy a 32-satellite system that will be able to directly pick up signals from IoT sensors without amplification. The company’s CEO, Rob Spurrett, argues that approach will allow it to offer low-cost services that will set it apart from the growing number of other companies planning similar systems. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX’s efforts to recover payload fairings from Falcon 9 launches now involve a mix of mystery and mischief. The boat currently used to capture payload fairings in a large net, the GO Ms. Tree, has been joined in Florida by a second boat, GO Ms. Chief. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that the second boat will also be used to catch payload fairings, allowing both halves of the fairing to be retrieved. After many tests, SpaceX has started to successfully catch fairing sections with the net on GO Ms. Tree, including during last week’s launch of the Amos-17 satellite. [Space.com]
Indonesian satellite operator PSN selected Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to provide ground infrastructure for its upcoming broadband satellite. Under the $5.7 million contract, Kratos will provide a unified ground station monitoring solution for SATRIA, a Ka-band satellite PSN will operate for the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Kratos’ monitoring solution will display trends, analytics and key performance indicators across the satellite’s ground infrastructure to help reduce costs and optimize operations. Thales Alenia Space is building the satellite, which is expected to provide 150 gigabits per second of capacity over Indonesia after launching in 2022. [Kratos]
A French supplier of satellite components is developing a smallsat launch adapter. Mecano ID is developing a deployer with the assistance of the French space agency CNES. The Ejection Of Satellite (EOS) separation system is designed for smallsats between 20 and 60 kilograms, and should be qualified and ready for launch opportunities during the second half of 2020. Mecano ID is a 75-person company that counts on the space sector for 90% of its $10 million in annual revenue. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.