Intersputnik To Solicit Bids for Two Telecom Satellites

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PARIS — The 25-nation Intersputnik organization is preparing to send out bid requests to prospective builders of two telecommunications satellites that the Moscow-based group would deploy for its own use in order to keep rights to orbital slots, Intersputnik Deputy Director-General Stefan Kollar said Dec. 2.

Intersputnik must occupy the two slots, at 16 degrees west and 78 degrees east, with spacecraft by 2015 or return the frequency assignments to the general pool maintained by the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations affiliate that coordinates orbital positions and |frequencies.

Intersputnik has received expressions of interest in this self-funded project from Ukraine, India, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia and other nations. “If everything goes well,” Kollar said, a request for bids for the two satellites could be sent out in 2011.

“Preliminary consultations showed that it was indeed possible to procure Intersputnik’s own space segment,” Intersputnik said in a Dec. 1 statement following a meeting of its operations committee in Moscow. Intersputnik typically resells capacity on satellites owned by other companies.

In an e-mail exchange, Kollar said Intersputnik likely will meet its revenue target for 2010 but will fall short on its profitability goal. He said Intersputnik estimates that 2010 revenue will be $71 million, up nearly 22 percent over 2009 and within the formal company-set target, but still shy of what Intersputnik officials had hoped for earlier in the year.

Profitability also suffered in 2010 and is likely to grow no more than 1.4 percent, compared with 9 percent that had been forecast, Kollar said.

“The financial crisis has affected Intersputnik’s business,” Kollar said. “It forced some of our clients to cut their expenses and it resulted both in the decrease in the amount of telecommunications services and revenue.”

In a Dec. 1 statement following the operations committee meeting, Intersputnik Director-General Vadim Belov referred to “objectively unfavorable circumstances that affected Intersputnik’s business in 2010.”

For 2011, the company is expecting a 10 percent increase in revenue. “For the last several years Intersputnik has been showing stable annual growth, and it is safe to consider that this tendency continues in Year 2011,” Kollar said.

Intersputnik leases capacity on 19 satellites located from 14 degrees west to 166 degrees east that are owned by multiple commercial fleet operators. The company has been deepening its cooperation with Russian Satellite Communications Co. to accelerate that company’s plans to modernize Russia’s domestic satellite telecommunications fleet. Intersputnik is also a major reseller of capacity on satellites owned by Eutelsat of Paris.

The organization’s national members have more rights to orbital slots than they have plans to develop those positions, permitting Intersputnik to monetize the orbital slots by letting other operators station spacecraft there.

Spacecom of Israel is using Intersputnik’s 17 degrees east slot for a placeholder satellite, Amos 5i, while waiting for the Amos 5 satellite to be launched. ABS of Hong Kong, which began business with a satellite owned by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Intersputnik, has secured long-term rights from Intersputnik for ABS’s core 75-degrees east slot, and also at 74.9 degrees east.

“We are negotiating with ABS for an expansion of our cooperation,” Kollar said. He declined to go into details.