EU nations and European Parliament lawmakers are likely to clinch a deal on a 6-billion-euro ($6 billion) satellite internet system next week, people with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, prompted by the bloc’s push to cut its reliance on foreign companies and the conflict Ukraine.
The European Commission unveiled the initiative to develop and operate a satellite internet system in February, part of EU industry Chief Thierry Breton’s move for strategic autonomy. The EU scheme comes amid mounting concerns about Russian and Chinese military advances in outer space and a rise in satellite launches.
Having its own satellite internet system could help the bloc accelerate the rollout of broadband internet in Europe while it would also include Africa, enabling the EU to provide countries there an alternative to Chinese competitors.
A space-based network could supersede terrestrial networks in the event of major outages or disasters, and provide connections in places not covered by traditional service providers. Officials from EU nations and EU lawmakers will convene on Nov. 17 in what is likely to be the last meeting to hammer out final details, the people said.
There is still disagreement on where the financing for the project will proceed from which suggests another meeting could not be precluded, they said.
The Commission plans to channel 2.4 billion euros from several EU programmes and use unspent funds from other EU projects, while the private sector is expected to contribute the remaining 3.6 billion euros.Buy Crypto Now
In that context, the recommended satellite internet system could bring about the construction and launch of up to 170 low-orbit satellites between 2025 and 2027. The companies involved in this area include Elon Musk’s SpaceX, British Satellite Company OneWeb, and Amazon’s (AMZN.O) Kuiper Systems. China also has its own constellation project.
European players include France’s Eutelsat Communications (ETL.PA), the world’s third-largest satellite operator by revenue which is consolidating with Arianespace, Britain’s OneWeb, and Thales Alenia Space.
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