KT Sat takes stake in Japanese maritime market

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WASHINGTON — Regional satellite fleet operator KT Sat, continuing its quest to raise its stature outside of its home country of South Korea, forged a landmark partnership Aug. 30 with a ship network supplier to offer satellite connectivity to the Japanese maritime market.

The Seoul-based satellite operator, which is part South Korea’s largest telecom operator KT Corp., is teaming up with Tokyo-based Hun’s Corp. to distribute its maritime VSAT product, MVSAT, in Japan starting next month.

Hun’s supports more than 900 Japanese vessels from 53 companies.

KT Sat, citing figures from the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics in Bremen, Germany, said the Japanese maritime market, with around 4,200 vessels, is more than twice the size of South Korea’s. Only China and Greece have larger markets.

KT Sat said that with Hun’s, it will seek to lure customers from global satellite operators and Japanese telcos like KDDI. By 2021, KT Sat hopes to generate $27 million by connecting 300 vessels with its MVSAT service.

“Now KT SAT has entered the global MVSAT market,” Won-sic Hahn, KT Sat CEO, said Aug 30. “This partnership is a stepping stone of KT SAT’s penetration of Maritime VSAT markets around the world  — of countries with successful maritime logistics industry such as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and we will lead the global MVSAT business.”

For several years KT Sat has said that it wants to have a global presence in the satellite industry, but the company has had little traction outside of South Korea. In an April U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, parent company KT Corp. estimated KT Sat has about a one percent of the global market.

KT Sat operates four satellites — Koreasat-5, Koreasat-6, Koreasat-7, and the ABS-2/Koreasat-8 condosat — and has a fifth satellite, Koreasat-5A, scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 later this year. In June, the company signed another international customer, Mongolian television broadcaster DDish TV, for an eighth of the capacity on Koreasat-5A once it launches.