Poised for IPO, Telesat adds U.S. telecom veteran to C-suite

Glenn Katz
Glenn Katz has joined Telesat in the newly created role of chief commercial officer. Photo courtesy Telesat

As it prepares to go public amid a multibillion-dollar campaign to build hundreds of new satellites, Telesat has bolstered its executive suite with the addition of a telecom industry veteran.

The Ottawa-based satellite equipment provider said Tuesday it’s named Glenn Katz to the newly created role of chief commercial officer. The company said Katz will oversee its product development, management and marketing operations and will lead its international sales team.

In a statement, Telesat chief executive Dan Goldberg called Katz a “highly effective industry leader with deep experience in developing and delivering cutting-edge communications services to customers around the world.”

Katz most recently served as senior vice-president and general manager of enterprise solutions at Comcast Business, a subsidiary of U.S. telecommunications conglomerate Comcast. He previously spent two years as CEO of managed satellite network service provider Spacenet and was briefly CIO and interim CEO of satellite internet service provider StarBand before it was acquired by Spacenet in 2005.

Katz’s hiring deepens Telesat’s bench strength in satellite broadband communications as the firm embarks on its low-Earth-orbit satellite program aimed at delivering high-speed internet service to remote parts of the planet.

$6.5B price tag

Dubbed Lightspeed, the new network will include 298 satellites operating much closer to Earth than traditional satellites – between 1,000 and 1,300 kilometres above the ground as opposed to 36,000 kilometres.

The constellation – which has a total price tag of about $6.5 billion – is designed to deliver broadband internet speeds comparable to those offered by fibre-optic networks to places that currently can’t access such service.

The federal government said in mid-August it was contributing nearly $1.5 billion to help fund the project. Telesat expects Lightspeed to start operating in 2024, and says it will ultimately connect 40,000 Canadian households in rural and remote regions to high-speed LTE and 5G networks. 

In addition to his extensive satellite communications background, Katz’s experience at a subsidiary of publicly traded Comcast could come in handy at Telesat, which is slated for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq later this year.

Executive shift

Goldberg told OBJ in August the firm was “on track” for an IPO late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter after getting the green light from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. A company spokesperson did not have an immediate update on the timing of the IPO when contacted by OBJ on Tuesday.

Telesat also announced another executive move Tuesday. 

The firm said Tom Eaton, who spent seven years as its vice-president of international sales, will shift to a new role as president of Telesat Government Solutions. A U.S.-incorporated, wholly owned subsidiary of Telesat, the company provides U.S. government customers with end-to-end satellite communications services. 

Telesat reported revenues of $188 million in its most recent quarter, down 10 per cent from a year earlier. The company attributed the drop to a “slight reduction of service” from one of its North American direct-to-home satellite customers as well as non-renewals of certain contracts and lower consulting revenues.

Telesat posted a net income of $61 million, compared with $162 million in the same period a year earlier.