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Satellite ISP Bigblu Broadband Acquired by Eutelsat for £38m

Friday, July 31st, 2020 (9:08 am) - Score 1,281
big blu broadband uk isp

The European operations of broadband ISP Bigblu (BBB Europe), which supplies various satellite and fixed wireless internet access services to consumers across the UK and parts of EU, has been acquired by satellite operator Eutelsat for a consideration of c.£38m (just as their new high speed Konnect satellite is due to enter service).

BBB Europe generated revenues of around £35m in 2019 but has been struggling for awhile. The activities to be acquired by Eutelsat currently count around 50,000 Bigblu subscribers across an expanding pan-European footprint, which includes operations in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Greece.

The deal is particularly interesting because Eutelsat have been one of Bigblu’s biggest service suppliers (often utilising their existing KA-SAT spacecraft) and in January 2020 they launched their large next generation GEO KONNECT satellite (here), which will share 75Gbps of capacity across a network of 65 spotbeams using the Ka-band – reaching across much of Africa (40 countries) and a big chunk of Europe (15 countries).

Eutelsat has previously claimed that their new satellite platform should thus “provide Internet access services for both companies and individuals” at up to 100Mbps, as well as offering more flexible and affordable data usage allowances. The first commercial services are expected to start going live towards the end of this year and into early 2021.

Rodolphe Belmer of Eutelsat said:

“We are delighted to integrate the activities of BBB Europe which will greatly enhance our European broadband distribution network as we progressively bring into service next-generation capacity in the form of EUTELSAT KONNECT and KONNECT VHTS, capable of bringing fiber-like high speed internet connection to the many areas in Europe that remain unserved or under-served by terrestrial infrastructure. This deal represents an important step in our broader Broadband strategy.”

Suffice to say that Eutelsat will effectively become both the operator of the platform and the consumer facing ISP business, which is a position that might make other satellite ISPs in the business feel a little uncomfortable (most of which are just resellers for Eutelsat, Avanti and other operators). The closing of the transaction is expected by October 2020, subject to customary conditions precedent.

We should add that Konnect is expected to be joined in 2022 by the presence of the Konnect VHTS (very high throughput) satellite, which is currently under construction by Thales Alenia Space. The VHTS is expected to weigh 6.3 tonnes and have a massive Ka-band capacity of 500Gbps.

All of these services will no doubt face competition from the new generation of smaller Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations via SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb etc.

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