The European Commission unconditionally approved Viasat’s planned purchase of Inmarsat on Thursday, removing the last regulatory hurdle the two companies faced in their planned consolidation. With that eliminated, they now expect to close the deal before the end of May.
The United Kingdom initially balked at the deal, fearing it would drive up the price of in-flight internet services. Ultimately, that concern was cleared, in large part owing to the emergence of SpaceX Starlink as a new competitor in the market, plus OneWeb adding LEO capacity.
US regulators also cleared the transaction, without restrictions, last week.
When the deal closes the combined company will take over as the leading provider of in-flight internet service globally, and by a significant and growing margin. The two companies also have plans to significantly increase satellite capacity over the next three years. Viasat has one new ViaSat-3 satellite recently launched that should be ready to serve terrestrial customers in the next couple weeks. Another two launches are planned over the year ahead. Inmarsat has two I-6 satellites in orbit which are expected to bring Ka-band and L-band capacity online over a similar timeline.
Additionally, Inmarsat has plans to launch a trio of additional Ka-band satellites (GX-7, GX-8, GX-9) to increase Ka-band capacity in 2024. The GX-10a and GX-10b payloads are anticipated to launch into a highly elliptical orbit later this year, adding coverage for aircraft (and other stations) traversing the north pole.
Finally, Inmarsat recently committed to launching its I-8 constellation, a trio of satellites boosting L-band capacity and extending the life of that constellation. When describing the value proposition of the merger Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg was very keen on the opportunities to significantly grow the L-band business.
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