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Viasat, Gazprom Space Systems, TMC Sign Strategic MOU Establishing a Multi-Year Roadmap of Cooperation to Bring In-Flight Connectivity Services to Russia

Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, Russian satellite operator Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) and Russian telecom operator TMC LLC (TMC) today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that aims to advance in-flight connectivity (IFC) for airlines flying into and over Russia.  

Russia is a key region for in-flight communications, comprised of 11 time zones, and providing, among other things, the shortest flight routes between North America and Asia, as well as between Europe and Asia. Per the MOU, the three companies will work in partnership to provide Russian and international airlines IFC service when flying into and over Russian Federation airspace. This cooperation is expected to offer Viasat's global airline customers roaming connectivity when flying over Russia; providing IFC services on domestic flights within Russia; and enabling Russian and international airlines access to roam onto the Viasat global satellite network when outside of Russian airspace.

The MOU establishes an initial roaming agreement between current Viasat and GSS satellites, with Viasat operating in Russia leveraging TMC's telecom license. The partnership commenced with Viasat procuring access to Ku-band capacity on the GSS satellite, Yamal-401, while creating a path for Viasat and GSS to leverage capabilities on future satellite constellations.

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Keven Lippert, chief commercial officer at Viasat, commented, "Our MOU with GSS and TMC is an important next step in establishing a global IFC roaming alliance that will ensure airlines have access to uninterrupted, feature-rich IFC services when flying into and over Russia. We look forward to achieving strong synergies across satellite platforms in order to advance the global IFC market."

Dmitry Sevastiyanov, general director at GSS, added, "The MOU execution is a testament that GSS' orbital and ground assets will be an important part of the growing global satellite-based aviation services market. We are excited to cooperate with Viasat, an established company in the satellite-based mobility sector, and leverage the local telecom operations experience that TMC brings—as it opens up new long-term opportunities for GSS to expand satellite capacity across new mobile applications and markets."

Alexey Bulkin, general director at TMC, noted, "We expect the MOU between Viasat, GSS and TMC will greatly contribute to the integration of the Russian air transportation industry into the united global aviation market. We believe the timing couldn't be better given Russia's increased development and production in civil aircraft for both domestic and international markets; the ongoing digital transformation of the economy; and the increased global interest in high-speed, high-quality IFC for domestic flights and international overflights over Russia."

Each company will maintain its own intellectual property and will operate its equipment using a secure, multi-layered approach to network services. This non-binding MOU initially covers IFC services, but could extend into other mobility or emerging markets within Russia.

Source: ViaSat, Inc.
Date: Feb 10, 2021


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