Google (GOOG) plans to spend ~$1B to more than $3B to build a fleet of satellites providing Web access to unconnected and underserved regions, the WSJ reports.
Google's project will reportedly start with 180 small satellites orbiting the earth at relatively low altitudes, and is being led by the founder of satellite services startup O3b Networks.
The effort comes on the heels of Google's purchase of solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace (also aims to provide Web access to remote areas), and the launch of Project Loon, an effort to prove 3G-or-faster Web access for the planet using hot-air balloons.
Larry Page has argued balloons are cheaper and easier to deploy than satellites, but satellites offer more capacity, and have seen their costs drop sharply in recent years. Analyst Tim Farrar thinks Google will replace Loon in favor of Titan's drones, and have Titan complement a satellite network.
Google has also been reported to be close to acquiring Skybox Imaging, a provider of high-res satellite imagery and related analytics services, for ~$1B.
Globalstar (GSAT) +1.2% premarket. Other satellite services firms that could be affected by Google's move: VSAT, LORL, SATS, IRDM.
Echostar (SATS -0.5%) acquires Irish mobile satellite services operator Solaris Mobile. Terms were undisclosed.
Of particular value to Echostar, Solaris has an EU license for mobile satellite service with a complementary S band. The company is deploying a satellite and ground network for wholesale access across the EU in the 30 MHz S band. SATS will provide Solaris with MSS satellite capacity.
As of the end of 2012, Solaris had €10.4M in total assets and €0.7M in liabilities.
Echostar (SATS) and Vivendi (VIVHY.PK) subsidiary GVT are negotiating a pay-TV service joint venture in Brazil, reports Financial Times.
The move would allow GVT to offer standalone TV services as opposed to its current triple-play-only offers (fixed-line, TV, and internet). GVT has grown rapidly and won 500K customers since it started the business in 2012.
Bernstein analyst Claudio Aspesi noted, "This would give GVT the opportunity to distribute their content on a wider footprint." The JV may also benefit from increased pay-TV demand on the back of the 2014 World Cup, which Brazil will host.
SATS - 100% Barchart technical buy signal - 12 new highs and up 11.62% in the last month - Relative Strength Index 76.52%
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EchoStar Corp designs, develops and distributes digital set-top boxes and related products. The Company also provides satellite operations, video delivery solutions and broadband satellite technologies and services.