Intelsat expands its global 5G software-defined network

By Featured, IFECNo Comments

Intelsat and Thales Alenia Space are to build two software-defined satellites designed to advance Intelsat’s global fabric of software-defined GEO connectivity as part of its 5G software-defined network.

Intelsat 41 (IS-41) and Intelsat 44 (IS-44) are scheduled to enter service in 2025, joining two Airbus constructed software-defined satellites, Intelsat 42 (IS-42) and Intelsat 43 (IS-43), announced in January 2021.

Intelsat 41 and Intelsat 44 will be based on Thales Alenia Space’s innovative Space Inspire product line, allowing seamless telecommunications mission and services reconfiguration, instant in-orbit adjustment to broadband connectivity demand, and superior video broadcasting performance while maximising the effective use of the satellite resources.

“Intelsat’s standards-based open-architecture network design facilitates the incorporation of the best technology at any given time, further bolstering network resiliency,” said Stephen Spengler, CEO of Intelsat. “With the addition of Intelsat 41 and Intelsat 44, in partnership with Thales Alenia Space, Intelsat will blanket the earth with software-defined satellites, progressing the world’s first global 5G software-defined network, designed to unify the global telecoms ecosystem.”

The contract enables the continued advancement of Intelsat’s planned global software-defined satellite-based network, adding high-speed dynamically-allocated connectivity across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia for commercial and government mobility services and cellular backhaul.

Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space, said: “Our relationship with Intelsat has been so meaningful, knowing that our attractive Space Inspire software-defined solution will contribute to the realization of Intelsat’s global 5G software-defined unified network. We are proud that our advanced satellite technology will play a significant role in Intelsat’s vision to reimagine the global telecoms ecosystem.”

Intelsat HQ exterior

US court approvals Intelsat financial restructuring process

By IFECNo Comments
Intelsat HQ exterior

The US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, has approved Intelsat’s Plan of Reorganization, marking the final Court milestone in the Company’s financial restructuring process. Intelsat is poised to emerge from the process in early 2022 upon receipt of regulatory approvals, completion of certain corporate actions, and satisfaction of other customary conditions.

The confirmed Plan will reduce Intelsat’s debt by more than half – from approximately US$16 billion to $7 billion – and position the Company for long-term success as it innovates and brings new services to market. The Plan was supported by all creditor groups across Intelsat’s capital structure following extensive negotiations and the ultimate consensual resolution of a multitude of complex issues.

“Today’s Plan confirmation is a key milestone in Intelsat’s transformation. We have achieved all of the goals we identified at the outset of the process, including a substantial reduction of our legacy debt burden,” said Intelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Spengler. “Throughout the process, we have driven our business forward at full speed – launching new satellites, advancing the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum, acquiring Gogo’s commercial aviation business, progressing our next generation network and service strategy, and serving customers every day with the excellence for which we are known. We greatly appreciate the dedication and contributions of our employees, the support of our valued customers, vendors, and other partners, and the collaboration with our financial stakeholders as we pave the way for future innovation and growth.”

“With a strengthened balance sheet, strong operating model, and unparalleled global orbital and spectrum rights, scale, and partnerships, we will be better positioned to advance our strategic objectives, accelerate our growth trajectory, and fuel the success of our customers and other key stakeholders. Our goals include building the world’s first global 5G satellite-based, software-defined, unified network,” Spengler continued. “For nearly 60 years, Intelsat has been respected for innovation, reliability, sector leadership, and high-performing services and support. We look forward to maintaining our leading position in the satellite communications industry for decades to come.”

Under the terms of the Plan and with exit financing commitments already obtained, Intelsat is set to emerge as a private company, with the support of new equity owners, access to $7.875 billion in capital, and a significantly deleveraged balance sheet. The Company is well positioned to continue to reduce its debt upon receipt of $4.87 billion of accelerated relocation payments in connection with the C-band spectrum clearing project, with $1.2 billion of the total already approved by the Federal Communications Commission for anticipated receipt in January.

Rex Airlines 737-800NG

Rex nears Wi-Fi rollout completion on 737 fleet

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Rex Airlines 737-800NG

Rex, Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline has confirmed that four of the six jets in the 737-800NG fleet have been kitted out with Intelsat’s 2Ku Wi-Fi. The remaining two will be similarly equipped in a few months.

“In this day and age business and leisure travellers want to remain connected whether they are on the ground or in the air,” Mayooran Thanabalasingam, Rex’s General Manager, Information Technology and Communications, said.

Business class travellers will enjoy complimentary internet Wi-Fi throughout their journey. Passengers in economy will also enjoy free internet Wi-Fi until the end of November after which they’ll be able to access the internet for a small fee.

Rex passengers will also have access to a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) portal featuring in-flight information, weather and a variety of free-of-charge TV shows and movies which will all be refreshed on a regular basis.

“We’re honoured Rex has chosen us to help them delight their passengers in Australia. As life begins to return to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers are excited to fly again and we expect their need for connectivity to be even greater than it was before,” said Intelsat Senior Vice President of Commercial for Intelsat Commercial Aviation, Dave Bijur.

As part of a fleet renewal, Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A220-300, the company’s latest addition to its fleet on its short and medium-haul network.

Air France unwraps its first Airbus A220-300

By Design, FeaturedNo Comments
As part of a fleet renewal, Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A220-300, the company’s latest addition to its fleet on its short and medium-haul network.

As part of a fleet renewal, Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A220-300, the company’s latest addition to its fleet on its short and medium-haul network.

By 2025 Air France will have integrated the 60 A220-300s ordered in 2019 to gradually replace its Airbus A318s and A319s as well as several Airbus A320s.

“The arrival of a new aircraft is always a special occasion for an airline. All the Air France teams have spent over two years preparing for this moment and we are excited to see our customers discover the optimal comfort offered by this aircraft. The cabin is more spacious, brighter, and offers full Wi-Fi-connectivity, further contributing to the upmarket positioning of our offer,” said Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France.

The Air France Airbus A220-300 has 148 seats, in a 3-2 seat configuration (5 seats across) offering 80% of customers a window or aisle seat. It offers two travel cabins, Business and Economy, and access to Air France Connect, the airline’s in-flight Wi-Fi service, provided by Intelsat.

“We are honoured to partner with Air France and delight their passengers with a superior inflight connectivity experience on Airbus’ state-of-the-art A220 aircraft,” said John Wade, President, Commercial Aviation of Intelsat. “This award expands the total Intelsat fleet at Air France to 143 aircraft, including widebody B777s and A330s. Air France is the third airline partner to select Intelsat on the A220 airframe and our first 2Ku line-fit European airline partner.”

“Accessing the internet and being able to stay in touch with family and friends while traveling has become a must have for our customers,” said Fabien Pelous, Senior Vice President Customer Experience of Air France. “We are happy to partner with Intelsat to provide this service to our customers.”

The seat is the widest on the market (48 cm). It reclines to 118 degrees and has an adjustable headrest, leather upholstery and an ergonomic seat cushion for enhanced comfort. A wide solid tray table, cup holder, a pouch for storing magazines and books, individual USB A and C ports and tablet or smartphone holder integrated into the backrest complete the package.

The cabin, the most spacious and brightest in its category, is decorated in the Air France signature colours – shades of blue, a strong presence of white providing light and contrast, and a hint of red symbolise the airline’s ‘excellence and know-how’. The carpet revisits the traditional ornamental herringbone pattern, symbolising the emblematic Haussmann-inspired world of Parisian apartments.

Large panoramic windows provide natural light for the duration of the trip. From boarding to landing, specially-adapted cabin mood lighting settings create bright, dynamic lighting for the welcome and disembarkation phases and softer lighting for a more relaxed, serene atmosphere during the flight. The spacious baggage racks are easy to access. The central aisle is particularly wide, allowing customers to move about at ease.

Finally, as on the entire Air France fleet, the air in the cabin is renewed every three minutes thanks to a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air)-type filter air recycling system that eliminates 99.9% of particles and viruses.

Intelsat HQ exterior

Intelsat set to enter private hands

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Intelsat HQ exterior

Key creditor groups of Intelsat have agreed to vote in favour of a comprehensive financial restructuring that would reduce the Company’s debt by more than half – from nearly US$15 billion to $7 billion.

The Company has filed an Amended Plan of Reorganization in its Chapter 11 proceedings pending before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, accompanied by an explanatory Disclosure Statement. The Amended Plan has the support of holders of approximately $11 billion, or nearly 75%, of the Company’s funded debt. These supporting creditors have executed a Plan Support Agreement that binds their support for the Company’s Amended Plan.

Today’s filings and the widespread consensus in support of the Amended Plan should help to achieve completion of the financial restructuring process and the Company’s emergence from Chapter 11 by the end of 2021. The Amended Plan provides that Intelsat will emerge as a private company, with the support of new equity owners, to best advance its strategic objectives and accelerate its growth trajectory, with a path to becoming publicly traded again at some point in the next five years.

Passenger using a PED

Intelsat drops Gogo name as integration complete

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Passenger using a PED

Gogo Commercial Aviation has officially been renamed Intelsat, following its acquisition last December.

“Intelsat’s unparalleled global reach, depth of capacity and vertical integration provides commercial airlines with unmatched optionality and flexibility, delivering the frictionless IFEC experience essential to commercial airlines,” said Intelsat Chief Executive Officer Stephen Spengler. “With Intelsat’s powerful, integrated offering, airlines no longer need to trade speed, reliability or availability for coverage — even when flying at full capacity in and out of the busiest airports.”

“Our company is known for its flexibility and commitment to exceptional customer service, and we’re always innovating new models aimed at helping airlines identify the right distribution strategy to meet their unique needs,” said John Wade, President of Intelsat’s Commercial Aviation Business division. “We do more than talk a good game; Intelsat’s superior customer experience is backed by meaningful and easy-to-understand SLAs that commercial airlines can trust to meet their passenger experience needs today, tomorrow and for decades to come,“ said Wade.

“This name change is happening while Intelsat is leveraging its unparalleled global orbital and spectrum rights, scale and partnerships to build the world’s first global 5G satellite-based software-defined network of networks,” added Spengler. “The Intelsat network will be capable of supporting virtually any access technology, enabling the next generation of global mobility, IoT and 5G services with never-before-seen combined simplicity, coverage, economics and performance.”

The US$400 million acquisition further propels Intelsat into vertically integrated managed mobility services, and deeper into the growing inflight connectivity market. Broadband connectivity for nine of the top 20 global airlines and an installed base of more than 3,000 commercial aircraft are now part of Intelsat’s portfolio of services.

Satcom Direct has confirmed the installation of its Ku-band Plane Simple tail mount antenna on a second aircraft type, the SD Dassault Falcon 2000LX.

SD installs Plane Simple tail mount antenna on a Falcon 2000LX

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Satcom Direct has confirmed the installation of its Ku-band Plane Simple tail mount antenna on a second aircraft type, the SD Dassault Falcon 2000LX.

Satcom Direct has confirmed the installation of its Ku-band Plane Simple tail mount antenna on a second aircraft type, the SD Dassault Falcon 2000LX.

The antenna is already equipped on the SD Gulfstream G350. The addition of the Dassault platform to the validation process will double testing capacity to give direct comparative feedback about the system’s full capabilities.

“Adding a second platform will serve to further verify the benefits of integrating the new advanced technology antenna with the already proven SD ecosystem of hardware, software and terrestrial infrastructure. Our mission is to analyse the performance and deliver a powerful, reliable, validated, connectivity solution to our early adopter customers,” said Chris Moore SD President of Business Aviation. “The dual-testing on two very distinct aircraft platforms demonstrates our commitment to providing seamless end-to-end connectivity for a wider selection of aircraft types than ever before. Ahead of in-service evaluation with customers, which is slated to begin Q3 2021, it also provides us with the opportunity to generate our first commercial Supplemental Type Certificate which will support installation for Falcon 2000 owners worldwide.”

Further STCs will follow before the end of the year.

Installation of the Plane Simple dual variant antenna is taking place at the Dassault Falcon Jet facility in Little Rock, Arkansas. Aerial validation on the Falcon 2000LX begins in July and will confirm the terminal’s functionality across the Intelsat FlexExec network, stress the system by using simultaneous, multiple high-bandwidth applications, and verify its capabilities across a range of flight dynamics.

“We are focused on developing products for the business aviation community that have been designed specifically for the unique requirements of the sector. We are not repurposing existing technology but using our experience as business aviators to bring a series of antennas to market that will meet the demanding needs of our business, military and government aviation customers,” adds Moore.

The Plane Simple Ku-band antenna is the first in a series of antenna systems being developed by SD in partnership with Germany-based QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme GmbH. Once activated the terminal will support the Intelsat FlexExec Ku-band service, which has been designed specifically to support business aviation operator needs.

Intelsat satellite rendering

Intelsat files Plan of Reorganization as it aims to exit Chapter 11 proceedings

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Intelsat satellite rendering

Intelsat has obtained the support of key creditor constituencies on the terms of a comprehensive financial restructuring that would reduce the Company’s debt by more than half – from nearly US$15 billion to $7 billion – and position the Company for long-term success.

Intelsat announced on 13 May, 2020 its decision to undertake a financial restructuring process to position itself for long-term success and allow for the business to emerge with a strengthened balance sheet.

Intselsat is filing a proposed Plan of Reorganization in its Chapter 11 proceedings pending before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, accompanied by an explanatory Disclosure Statement.

The Company is requesting a hearing on March 17, 2021 to seek Court approval of the Disclosure Statement and establish procedures to solicit votes on the Plan, which it is hoped will allow it to emerge from Chapter 11 proceedings in the second half of 2021.

Airbus has signed a contract with Intelsat to build two OneSat satellites operating in multiple frequency bands for Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network. The contract was signed on 31 December 2020.

Intelsat selects OneSat for next gen SDS network

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Airbus has signed a contract with Intelsat to build two OneSat satellites operating in multiple frequency bands for Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network. The contract was signed on 31 December 2020.

Airbus has signed a contract with Intelsat to build two OneSat satellites operating in multiple frequency bands for Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network.

The satellites will be based on Airbus’ OneSat product line, the latest generation of fully flexible, in orbit reconfigurable, Software Defined Satellites (SDS).

Airbus will deliver an end-to-end fully integrated solution, including design and manufacture of the satellites. The highly capable ground segment software components, when fully integrated into Intelsat’s next-generation software defined network ecosystem and advanced digital suite will allow dynamic operation of end-to-end satellite resources. The two next generation SD satellites will be delivered in 2023.

The Airbus Software Defined satellites will deliver powerful performance and a ground-breaking experience for Intelsat customers across multiple geographic regions. This agreement also marks the beginning of a radical evolution of Intelsat’s network; Intelsat is pursuing an aggressive, multi-year network transformation plan with investments in new assets that are designed for extremely high speeds, enhanced capacity flexibility, redundancy and backwards compatibility.

Intelsat Chief Executive Officer Stephen Spengler said: “Intelsat’s investment in Airbus software defined satellites marks an important first step in evolving the world’s largest, most resilient, integrated space and ground network. Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network will be the catalyst for our growth, enabling future Gogo Commercial Aviation in-flight broadband services, as well as other managed services across Intelsat’s customer segments.”

Gogo HQ - external skysline

Gogo Commercial Aviation becomes part of Intelsat family

By Featured, IFECNo Comments
Gogo HQ - external skysline

Intelsat has completed its acquisition of the Commercial Aviation business of Gogo in USD400 million cash deal.

Gogo will continue as a publicly traded company, now singularly focused on leveraging its ATG network and proprietary spectrum to serve the business aviation market.

According to Oakleigh Thorne, President and CEO of Gogo: “The completion of the sale of our CA business to Intelsat marks the beginning of a new chapter for Gogo; we are a leader in business aviation and now turn our singular focus toward serving that attractive market. Our business aviation division has proven resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of business aircraft online today has nearly returned to January levels.

“Looking forward, we see great opportunity to create value for our customers, employees and shareholders,” Thorne added. “And on behalf of all of us at Gogo, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the talented CA team that joins Intelsat today. The opportunities that await them are a testament to their unwavering dedication and commitment to Gogo and their aviation partners.”

“Combining Intelsat’s next-generation global telecommunications network with Gogo Commercial Aviation’s leading capabilities and airline relationships will create unprecedented innovation in in-flight digital connectivity, unlocking exciting new growth and brand loyalty opportunities across the airline industry,” said Intelsat Chief Executive Stephen Spengler. “With our powerful, integrated offering, airlines will no longer need to trade off speed, reliability or availability for coverage, even when flying at full capacity in and out of the busiest airport hubs.”

Intelsat announced several leadership changes, effective as part of the deal close.

John Wade will remain president of Gogo Commercial Aviation, now a division of Intelsat.

Bruno Fromont has been named Intelsat’s Chief Technology Officer. He will lead spectrum strategy, asset planning, product development and innovation.

Jon Cobin has been named Intelsat’s Chief Strategy Officer, leading the company’s corporate strategy and business development efforts.