Enlarge / The Intelsat 901 satellite is seen by a Northrop Grumman servicing vehicle in 2020. (credit: Northrop Grumman)

Facing competition from Starlink and other emerging satellite broadband networks, the two companies that own most of the traditional commercial communications spacecraft in geostationary orbit announced plans to join forces Tuesday.

SES, based in Luxembourg, will buy Intelsat for $3.1 billion. The acquisition will create a combined company boasting a fleet of some 100 multi-ton satellites in geostationary orbit, a ring of spacecraft located more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator. This will be more than twice the size of the fleet of the next-largest commercial geostationary satellite operator.

The problem is that demand is waning for communication services through large geostationary (GEO) satellites. There are some large entrenched customers, like video media companies and the military, that will continue to buy telecom capacity on geostationary satellites. But there’s a growing demand among consumers, and some segments of the corporate and government markets, for the types of services offered by constellations of smaller satellites flying closer to Earth.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More – Science – Ars Technica