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Satellites remain one of the most critical elements of the private space industry and several satellite firms’ most recent quarterly earnings show they are getting better at generating cash flow. Additionally, multiple space-based SPACS are on tap to list publicly in coming weeks.

When it comes to satellite internet speeds, Starlink, a part of the privately held SpaceX brand, has managed to dominate much of its competition. The company recently expanded its operations further, announcing the acquisition of Swarm Technologies.

Related ETFs & Stocks: Procure Space ETF (UFO), ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF (ARKX), Viasat, Inc. (VSAT), Iridium Communications Inc. (IRDM), Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (GILT)

Satellite Internet Speed Dominated by SpaceX’s Starlink

Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service, now boasts about 90,000 users in 12 countries. That total is up nearly a third from the “69,420” users reported in June (a critical milestone for CEO Elon Musk’s increasingly meme-based goals).

With a network of 1,650 satellites now in orbit, Starlink is the most valuable piece of SpaceX, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who has estimated the value of different parts of SpaceX. Back when the company’s total valuation was closer to $50 billion, Jones said Starlink was worth $42 billion of that sum. Per Barron’s, that private market valuation had jumped to $74 billion by February of this year.

Last week, Speedtest released its second quarterly report of 2021 measuring Starlink’s median download speeds and latency. For the first three months of the year, the median download speed for Starlink internet in the US was 65.72 megabits per second (Mbps). A few months later, that speed has surged by almost 48% to 97.23Mbps.

Though fixed broadband still reaches a higher nationwide median speed of 115.22Mbps, Mashable notes that Starlink competitors HughesNet and Viasat clocked download speeds of just 19.73Mbps and 18.13 Mbps, respectively.

Even though Starlink is already dominating the market for satellite internet, the company is continuing its rapid expansion, just this week announcing the acquisition of satellite data start-up Swarm Technologies. Since both companies are privately held, specific terms were not disclosed, but CNBC notes Swarm’s last fundraising round in January 2019 valued the company at $85 million. Swarm, which has launched 120 satellites thus far, as part of a planned 150 satellite constellation, focuses on its SpaceBEEs – “the smallest commercially operational satellites in space,” at 11 centimeters by 11 centimeters by 2.8 centimeters.

Though no talk of an IPO for SpaceX as a whole has been on the board, MRP noted in June that CEO Musk has said the Starlink business could become a publicly traded company when its revenue is “reasonably predictable”. Unfortunately, he also noted that point was “at least a few years away”.

Publicly Traded Satellite Firms Improving Profitability

As for companies already trading on public exchanges, Viasat, Gilat Satellite Networks, and Iridium Communications saw significant revenue growth and a shift toward profitability in their most recent quarterly earnings reports.

Though their aforementioned satellite internet speed has some catching up to do, Viasat recently reported record revenue of $665 million during the first quarter of its 2022 fiscal year, a 25% increase YoY. Per Via Satellite, net income was $17 million, up from a $12.4 million net loss in the same quarter last year. The company expects average annual revenue growth of approximately 20% through fiscal year 2023, compared to fiscal year 2021.

Also, in early June 2021, the company delivered the ViaSat-3 (Americas) payload to Boeing Satellite Systems for pre-launch testing. Following an early 2022 launch, each ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to provide broadband service across the world and generate over 20kW of payload power, among the highest-power commercial satellites ever built. Per a Viasat press release, just three of these satellites…

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