ST Engineering to buy Newtec for $281M • C-Band Alliance hires former Intel exec • Phasor picks antenna manufacturing partner

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Newtec ST Engineering
ST Engineering said the purchase will help it meet future drivers of connectivity, notably in areas “where 5G and satcom converge.” Photo shows Ravinder Singh, president of ST Engineering’s electronics division (left), and Roald Borré, chairman of Newtec’s board of directors. Credit: Newtec.

Singapore-based ST Engineering announced plans to acquire Belgian satellite ground equipment provider Newtec for 250 million euros ($281.3 million). ST Engineering said the acquisition will add “intellectual property, products and market access,” highlighting Newtec’s European presence, strength in broadcast, and recent successful low-Earth orbit communications testing with Telesat. ST Engineering owns Herndon, Virginia-based iDirect, a ground equipment provider that counts Intelsat, SES and Inmarsat as customers. Roald Borré, chairman of Newtec’s board of directors, described the acquisition as an “exciting and hugely significant step.” Vincent Chong, ST Engineering’s president and CEO, said the combination will help the company meet future drivers of connectivity, such as smart cities and other areas “where 5G and satcom converge.” ST Engineering expects the merger to close in the second half of this year. [ST Engineering]

The C-Band Alliance has hired a former Intel executive as its new head of advocacy and government affairs, filling the gap left by Preston Padden’s departure early this month. Peter Pitsch, Intel’s associate general counsel who retired last year, will support the C-Band Alliance in its effort to promote the satellite operator-led plan to allow 5G signals in no more than 200 megahertz of C-band spectrum. Intel, though not a member of the C-Band Alliance, spearheaded the initial spectrum plan with Intelsat in 2017. In a news release, the C-Band Alliance — Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat — said Pitsch has been involved with the C-band plan since October 2017 when it was first announced. Pitsch was chief of staff to the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission during the 1980s. [SES]

Flat-panel antenna startup Phasor selected specialist electronics manufacturer Surface Technology International (STI) to build its antenna systems. STI will build the antenna systems at its Manchester, U.K., factory, a facility Phasor said is “within easy reach” of its own technology center in London. Phasor is developing antenna systems that use electronic steering, enabling them to link with satellites in any orbit. Phasor said choosing STI as its manufacturing partner positions the company to start commercial production, but didn’t give a date for when that will occur. [Phasor]

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C-Com Satellite Systems, an Ottawa-based satellite terminal provider, reported 13.5 million Canadian dollars ($10 million) in revenue for its 2018 fiscal year, which ended Nov. 30. The company reported a 31.6 percent increase in annual revenue, and a 122 percent increase in net profit to 2.3 million Canadian dollars. C-Com recently started sales of backpack-portable carbon-fiber terminals designed for military, disaster management and other markets. The company is also working on a flat, electronically steered antenna with the University of Waterloo, and said testing of a new prototype will begin in the coming months. [C-Com]

Russia plans to lower the price of the Proton-M rocket to make it competitive with the Falcon 9. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, said that it is cutting costs in ground infrastructure so that it can offer the rocket for the same price as the Falcon 9. The Proton had long been a mainstay of the commercial launch industry, but a sharp drop in geostationary satellite orders, coupled with a number of Proton failures linked to quality control issues, has reduced demand for the vehicle. [TASS]

The Commerce Department delivered a report on space-related spectrum issues Tuesday. The report, requested by Space Policy Directive 2 last May but months overdue, included 13 recommendations on topics ranging from signal interference to deep space communications meant to improve U.S. competitiveness. The report didn’t dive into the ongoing battle between telecom satellite operators and cellular network operators over spectrum, nor did it comment on the FCC’s decision to auction spectrum for 5G networks despite objections raised by NASA and NOAA over potential interference with weather satellites. [SpaceNews]

The University of Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory received a contract from HawkEye 360 to build three small satellites. HawkEye 360 is developing a constellation of satellites that can locate radio-frequency signals for spectrum analysis and other purposes. Space Flight Laboratory built HawkEye 360’s first three demonstration satellites, which launched last year into low Earth orbit. This next trio of satellites will carry more sophisticated payloads to broaden signal detection and geolocation capabilities, Space Flight Laboratory said. HawkEye 360’s satellites conduct “formation flying” in order to accurately map radio signals. Space Flight Laboratory said it will supply a high performance attitude control system to keep the satellites in stable orbits relative to one another. [SpaceRef/Space Flight Laboratory]

Swarm Technologies is looking past its run-in with the FCC last year as it works to deploy a smallsat constellation. The company launched four small satellites last year despite having its FCC license application rejected, leading to a $900,000 fine from the FCC in December. Swarm CEO Sara Spangelo said in a recent interview that the company is now “working really productively” with the FCC on licensing issues. Swarm has seven satellites in orbit for Internet of Things applications and plans to have 100 in orbit by the end of this year, with the full constellation comprising 150 satellites. [SpaceNews]

Astranis, a startup building small satellites for geostationary communications services, will use an operating system from software specialist Wind River for its first satellite. Astranis said March 27 it will use Wind River’s VxWorks operating system for its previously announced Alaska-focused satellite, expected to launch in 2020. John Gedmark, Astranis CEO and co-founder, said Wind River’s experience working with NASA and other space missions was influential in Astranis’ selection process. [Business Wire]

SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.