Orange joins Starlink in space Internet war


The race for satellite internet dominance is intensifying as Elon Musk’s Starlink faces a formidable new rival, Orange.

Starlink, spearheaded by visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk, has firmly established itself as a formidable player in the technology industry. By posing a significant challenge to traditional internet service providers (ISPs), Starlink has demonstrated its capabilities and disrupted the status quo. What was once a lofty promise of providing global broadband internet access through an extensive constellation of satellites launched by SpaceX has now become a tangible reality.

Gone are the days when this type of internet access came with a hefty price tag. Today, it has become remarkably affordable. For just 200 euros on equipment and a monthly subscription fee of 40 euros, residents in France can now take advantage of this offer.

This development is a godsend for those residing in “white zones” or areas where traditional ADSL connections fall short. In a relatively short span of time, Starlink has emerged as a compelling alternative to major ISPs such as Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free. With the continuous deployment of new satellites, Starlink’s performance is only getting better, solidifying its success in the market.

Orange launches its satellite

Meanwhile, Orange has been actively working on its own advancements. Christel Heydemann, the head of the company, has recently revealed plans for the upcoming launch of a satellite service bearing the Orange brand. To make this possible, Orange is leveraging the expertise of Nordnet, its specialist in satellite internet access.

In contrast to Starlink’s approach, Nordnet’s strategy takes a different route. Instead of deploying a vast number of satellites, Nordnet relies on geostationary satellites positioned at an approximate distance of 35,700 km from Earth. This model significantly reduces the satellite count, resulting in cost savings. However, it is worth noting that this approach comes with slightly lower speeds and higher latency.

Michael Trabia, the CEO of Orange Wholesale, has officially confirmed the upcoming launch of Orange Satellite in partnership with Nordnet. The announcement took place during a visit by Christel Heydemann to the Bercenay-en-Othe satellite station, where she was joined by Jean-Noël Barrot, the Minister Delegate for Telecommunications.

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While specific details of the offer have yet to be disclosed, it has been revealed that the incumbent operator, Orange, will be utilizing Eutelsat’s Konnect VHTS satellite for its satellite service. This high-throughput satellite was successfully launched in September of last year and will likely play a crucial role in delivering Orange’s satellite internet offering.

Orange had previously expressed its intentions to utilize the new-generation satellite immediately after its launch and had made firm commitments to that effect. The Konnect VHTS satellite, weighing 6.4 tons and boasting a wingspan of 45 meters, is positioned in geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36,000 km. With a capacity of 500 Gb/s, it provides a significant upgrade, offering seven times more capacity than its predecessor.

While we await further details about the exact offering, it is possible that Orange’s satellite service will deliver higher speeds compared to its current offerings through Nordnet. Speeds exceeding 100 Mb/s could be anticipated, whereas Starlink is aiming for 1 Gb/s in comparison. Nonetheless, Orange’s satellite offering complements its existing infrastructure, including optical fiber, copper, and 4G/5G networks.

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