Partners are important. Partners help justify the massive financial investment to build, launch and operate massive satellite systems. For the ViaSat-3 constellation of satellites, however, securing partners prior to launch is now more of a nice-to-have rather than a critical step. This shift in messaging comes as the company proceeds in the design and build process while failing to secure those partners, including losing out on Eutelsat as an investor in the EMEA satellite. In the most recent earnings call CEO Mark Dankberg was clear that the third ViaSat-3 is coming. Not only that, but it will deliver “meaningfully” more capacity than the first two of the constellation.
The February 2016 announcement of the the ViaSat-3 constellation included a firm commitment for the Americas and EMEA pair to launch. At that time Keven Lippert, EVP, Satellite Systems & Corporate Development suggested that getting the APAC satellite off the drawing board and into production would hinge on finding the right anchor customer partner:
One of the things that is important for us is having anchor customers for each of these [ViaSat-3] satellites. For the first satellite over in America we have our existing residential business, and we have our in flight commercial airline business. The European partnership with Eutelsat provides the foundation for [a second] satellite. Right now what we’re in discussions with various partners for having a few different anchor customers for that Asia-Pacific satellite. Once we’re able to secure that I think we would move forward with that.
Either the business model changed in the intervening years or the initial statement was askew. Which is more likely?
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Some transcript content quoted thanks to Seeking Alpha.