Satellite broadband firms join forces
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A French and British firm joined forces in the fast-growing satellite broadband market on Tuesday.
French operator Eutelsat said it had signed a merger with British group OneWeb to seal its plan to create a new "champion" in the market.
The pair first announced plans to merge in July when they signed a memorandum of understanding to unite and become "a leading global player in connectivity".
Eutelsat said that it had signed the final agreement with the main shareholders of OneWeb on Monday, which include the British government, SoftBank and Korean conglomerate Hanwa.
The deal still needs regulatory approval, and Eutelsat said it now expects completion of the merger by the second or third quarter of 2023.
Satellite broadband promises to bring coverage to the most remote areas of the planet by doing away with the need for antennas and other infrastructure. The market is projected to grow to $16 billion by 2030, according to Eutelsat.
Starlink heads the sector with more than 2,000 tiny satellites orbiting just a few hundred kilometres above the Earth.
OneWeb and Eutelsat have said their combined operations would create "a game-changer in the industry", with Eutelsat combining its 36-strong fleet of geostationary Earth orbit satellites with OneWeb's constellation of 648 low Earth orbit satellites.
Eutelsat already provides some internet services through a deal with telecoms firm Orange, but its network of 35 larger satellites orbit thousands of kilometres from Earth and are more commonly used for TV and other communications.
Eutelsat said the tie-up with OneWeb, if it goes through, would be the first of its kind allying lower and higher orbiting satellites.
The new joint venture would be headquartered in France and listed in Paris, but would also seek a listing on the London stock exchange.