PARIS — KT Corp. expects to begin commercial operations of its new Koreasat 5 satellite in mid-October and is targeting new markets in Northeast and Southeast Asia in addition to its base in South Korea, according to KT officials.
Koreasat 5, operating from 113 degrees east longitude, is Korea’s first mixed civil-military satellite. Its 24 Ku-band transponders will be operated by KT Corp. to replace the aging Koreasat 2 satellite and, through its steerable regional beams, expand Korean-language television programming beyond the nation’s borders.
The X- and Ka-band payload will be used by South Korea’s armed forces for fixed and mobile communications among Korean air, ground and naval forces. South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) co-funded the satellite. Its construction and launch aboard a Sea Launch vehicle were purchased from Alcatel Alenia Space of France under a contract valued at 148 million euros ($187 million).
Sung Kook Lee, an ADD manager, said KT and the armed forces would not be sharing Koreasat 5 capacity so much as separately operating the payloads. A dedicated satellite control center has been created for the armed forces, but spacecraft operations can be handled either by this facility or a similar one built by KT Corp.
KT Corp. reported satellite services revenues of 114 billion Korean won in 2005 ($122.5 million), a figure that has been flat for the past three years.
In a Sept. 26 presentation to the Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council annual meeting in Seoul, Gwang-Ju Seo, KT senior vice president, said Korea’s SkyLife direct-broadcast television provider remains KT’s biggest satellite customer, leasing 15 transponders on Koreasat 3. In the four years since it began service, SkyLife has reached a subscriber base of about 2 million homes, according to SkyLife.
Gwang said KT and SkyLife have joined forces to offer a bundled service featuring KT’s broadband data service and the SkyLife satellite television package.
KT also is providing fax, Internet data and Internet telephone services to the Korean navy and coast guard under a project called KT Maritime that combines satellite links from Koreasat 3 and the terrestrial communications network. Gwang said several thousand terminals have been installed on naval and coast guard vessels since early 2006.