TAMPA, Fla. — Four of the six O3b mPower broadband satellites that SES had planned to launch this year with SpaceX will not be ready until early 2023, the operator said Nov. 3 as it recorded strong growth in its networking activity.
While the launch of the first pair of O3b mPower satellites has been “locked” for December 15, SES CEO Steve Collar said delays have pushed the launch of the next-generation constellation service from second to second. third quarter of 2023.
Collar said satellites built by Boeing needed more time than expected to be tested and prepared for the launch of their Falcon 9 into medium Earth orbit (MEO).
It expects the next two satellites to be launched in the first half of January, with the third launch of two satellites coming “probably in February”, although that mission is still being finalized.
SpaceX was originally scheduled to begin launching an O3b mPower constellation that includes 11 total satellites in 2021.
O3b mPower is designed to provide significantly more capacity than SES’s current low-latency O3b network in MEO, which the fleet operator says is needed to meet growing demand from governments and mobility customers, including aviation and maritime.
According to Collar, SES will be able to start generating revenue from O3b mPower soon after launching its services by leveraging the groundwork that its “classic” O3b constellation has already put in place.
SES has invested heavily in the networking side of its business, which is also supported by the SES-17 satellite which entered service from geostationary orbit in June.
Collar said SES-17, which focuses on the commercial aviation market over the Americas, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean, will anchor the company’s growth over the next few years.
Aviation and cruise markets recovering from a pandemic crisis helped revenue from its networks business climb 2.7% to 636 million euros ($620 million) in the nine months to end of September, compared to the same period last year after adjusting for exchange rate fluctuations. rates.
This is despite a 7% drop in government revenue linked to the rapid US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
At the same time, video revenues fell 5.6% to 763 million euros amid a gradual decline across the satellite TV market as a whole.
Overall revenue decreased by 2.1% to €1.4 billion for the first nine months of 2022 after adjusting for exchange rates and excluding its recent acquisition of Leonardo DRSa US government satcom provider.
Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, rose 0.7% to 829 million euros.
SES also said it was ahead of schedule to meet next year’s regulatory deadline for releasing C-band spectrum in the United States to land mobile operators.
Recent satellite launches gave the company a “clear line of sight” to receive $3 billion worth of proceeds from the Federal Communications Commission, Collar said, meeting the regulator’s Dec. 5, 2023, deadline.
SES has already taken a first step that entitles the operator to approximately $1 billion in additional FCC spectrum compensation proceeds.
Separately, the company has entered into a private C-band compensation agreement with US mobile operator Verizon, which Collar says is expected to bring in an additional $170 million before the end of 2022.