Eva Berneke describes her first yr on the helm of the world’s third-largest satellite tv for pc firm as a “whirlwind.” That’s an understatement. Since she took excessive job at Eutelsat in January 2022, the Danish CEO has develop into a direct competitor to Elon Musk, been accused by the Ukrainian authorities of aiding Russian propaganda, and located herself within the thick of bitter Brexit politics—and that’s earlier than you even point out the Iranian sabotage try.
Regardless of all this, Berneke gives the look that she has every thing beneath management. When she arrived at Eutelsat, the French firm’s bread-and-butter enterprise was beaming TV channels into properties utilizing geostationary satellites—which transfer on the similar velocity as Earth and so keep in a set place. The group she inherited was secure and stable, she says—but in addition stagnating in an trade that’s present process radical change. Though was beginning to use its geostationary fleet to supply satellite tv for pc web, its TV revenues have been dwindling.
The doorway of two of the world’s richest males—Elon Musk with SpaceX’s Starlink community and Jeff Bezos with Undertaking Kuiper—was additionally starting to vary the best way incumbents considered their future. “When you might have two of the largest enterprise innovators getting occupied with your trade, it’s best to anticipate just a little little bit of shaking up,” says Berneke.
Undaunted, Berneke responded by initiating her personal shake-up. In July, the corporate introduced plans to merge with struggling British satellite tv for pc supplier OneWeb. As a part of the deal, Eutelsat absorbed OneWeb’s constellation of 648 low-orbit satellites. At simply 1,200 km above Earth, the OneWeb fleet delivers sooner web speeds than Eutelsat’s geostationary satellites, which sit 35,000 km above the planet’s floor.
OneWeb is Eutelsat’s ticket to the booming low-orbit satellite tv for pc market. Rural properties, ships, airways, militaries, and autonomous automobiles are turning to satellite tv for pc web to remain linked in locations beforehand thought-about lifeless zones.
“Even in France, a rustic with very excessive fiber and 5G protection, it’s estimated that round 4 % of households are with out good connectivity,” says Berneke. She expects this determine to rise to fifteen % of households in international locations with much less fiber and 5G. “So it’s not that small a distinct segment.”
The OneWeb-Eutelsat merger has been touted as Europe’s entry into the area race. It’s the solely firm at present competing with Musk’s Starlink within the low-orbit market. However to assert its title as a European area large, Eutelsat first has to navigate messy post-Brexit politics. Each France’s Eutelsat and Britain’s OneWeb have been part-owned by their respective governments, and the 2 international locations will proceed to personal stakes within the new enterprise.
Berneke admits Brexit has introduced challenges. “However there’s been a willingness on either side to achieve throughout the Channel to try to discover a great way of collaborating,” she says. If Europe needs a homegrown satellite tv for pc large, Britain and France must resolve their variations. “[OneWeb’s fleet] goes to be one of many solely non-US-based constellations for some time,” she says.
Brexit politics usually are not the one hurdle. OneWeb’s Gen One satellites want upgrading, and Eutelsat is planning to have extra superior Gen Two satellites in orbit by 2027. Berneke says this improve will value 3 billion to 4 billion euros ($3.3-4.4 billion), a daring transfer for an organization with a fame for enjoying it secure.