Viasat's headquarters in Carlsbad, California. Credit: Viasat

TAMPA, Fla. — Viasat’s $6.2 billion Inmarsat acquisition has created a satellite communications behemoth with revenues that would rival other geostationary operators even after their potential consolidation deals.

Inmarsat is set to help U.S.-based Viasat generate $4.5 billion in revenue for the 12 months to March 31 after its sale wrapped up last week, according to William Blair analyst Louis DiPalma, nearly 60% more than its $2.8 billion forecast without the British operator. 

The companies have previously operated under different fiscal financial years but recorded around $4 billion in total revenues for 2022, although Viasat has since also sold off a tactical data business that had generated about $400 million in annual sales.

Meanwhile, Intelsat and SES, the world’s largest geostationary orbit (GEO) operators by number of satellites, are in talks about creating a merged company that would generate around $4 billion in combined revenues. 

And GEO fleet operator Eutelsat has said it should nearly double annual sales in five years to around $2 billion if its merger with low Earth orbit (LEO) venture OneWeb gets approved this summer.

All these companies are likely eclipsed in revenues by privately held SpaceX, which pulls in billions for its launch business as the company rapidly expands its Starlink LEO broadband constellation.

Combining satellite fleets

DiPalma forecasts the enlarged Viasat will post $1.6 billion in adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the 12 months to March 31, versus $549 million without Inmarsat.

The combined company has 19 satellites in its fleet — when counting the Anik F2 under a lifetime lease from Canada’s Telesat — and around 8,000 employees. Inmarsat provided 13 of these satellites and roughly 1,800 employees.

SatelliteSpectrum bandLaunchedManufacturerLaunch provider
From Inmarsat:
I-3 F5L-bandFebruary 1998Lockheed MartinArianespace
I-4 F1L-bandMarch 2005EADS AstriumILS
I-4 F2L-bandNovember 2005AirbusSea Launch
I-4 F3L-bandAugust 2008EADS AstriumILS
I-4 F4 (Alphasat)L-bandJuly 2013EADS Astrium & Thales Alenia SpaceArianespace
I-5 F1 (GX1)Ka-bandAugust 2013BoeingILS
If-F2 (GX2)Ka-bandFebruary 2015BoeingILS
I5-F3 (GX3)Ka-bandAugust 2015BoeingILS
I-5 F4 (GX4)Ka-bandMay 2017BoeingSpaceX
Inmarsat-S EANS-bandJune 2017Thales Alenia SpaceArianespace
I-5 F5 (GX5)Ka-bandNovember 2019Thales Alenia SpaceArianespace
I-6 F1 (GX6A)L- & Ka-bandDecember 2021AirbusMHI
I-6 F2 (GX6B)L- & Ka-bandFebruary 2023AirbusSpaceX
From Viasat:
ViaSat-1Ka-bandOctober 2011Space Systems / LoralILS
ViaSat-2Ka-bandJune 2017BoeingArianespace
KA-SAT *acquired from Eutelsat in 2021Ka-bandDecember 2010EADS AstriumILS
Anik F2 *lifetime lease from TelesatKa-bandJuly 2004BoeingArianespace
Wilblue-1 *acquired 2009Ka-bandDecember 2006Space Systems / LoralArianespace
ViaSat-3Ka-bandApril 2023BoeingSpaceX

SES has more than 70 satellites across geostationary and medium Earth orbit, while Intelsat has over 50 in GEO. 

Eutelsat has 38 GEO satellites in orbit, and OneWeb has 634 spacecraft in LEO, including a technology demonstrator that launched in May.

SpaceX’s Starlink constellation easily overshadows all these operators combined with more than 4,000 satellites in LEO.

While all of Viasat and Inmarsat’s satellites are in geostationary orbit, Inmarsat has two payloads on order that are slated to launch to highly elliptical orbit later this year for coverage over the globe’s northernmost latitudes. Inmarsat also has plans for a network in LEO, which Viasat has also been exploring.

Despite announcing plans to merge a year and a half ago, Viasat and Inmarsat have spent little time comparing internal plans as they waited to clear regulatory approvals, Inmarsat chief technology officer Peter Hadinger said in an interview earlier this year.

The operators officially closed their acquisition May 30 but have not yet set a date for when they expect to complete their integration process.

The merger, and other operator consolidation deals in the works or under consideration, come amid a growing threat to GEO business models from LEO. Starlink has been taking subscribers away from Viasat’s residential broadband business, DiPalma noted, and competition is set to intensify as Amazon prepares to launch initial services from its proposed $10 billion constellation next year.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...