PARIS — Startup satellite broadband company NewSat of Australia, which is preparing to remake itself into a provider of its own satellite bandwidth, on Aug. 27 reported higher revenue and profit on its current teleport business for the year ending June 30.
Southbank-based NewSat has secured low-interest, government-backed loans from the United States and France and a satellite capacity swap agreement with satellite operator Measat of Malaysia to assure its transformation, starting in late 2013, into the world’s newest satellite operator.
NewSat has secured rights to capacity on the Measat-3b satellite, planned for launch in late 2013, in a deal valued at about $180 million. NewSat’s capacity has been named Jabiru-2. In return, Measat will purchase an equivalent amount of capacity on NewSat’s Jabiru-1 Ka-band satellite scheduled for launch in 2014.
Measat-3b will carry 48 Ku-band transponders and operate at 91.5 degrees east in geostationary orbit.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank and French Coface export-credit agency have agreed to provide direct loans and bank guarantees totaling about $383 million for the construction and launch of Jabiru-1. The company has said it is repaying the debt at an average interest rate of 2.5 percent over 8.5 years starting once Jabiru-1 is operational in orbit.
The satellite, outfitted with 50 Ka-band transponders feeding 24 spot beams and providing 7.6 gigahertz of capacity, is being built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., with France’s Arianespace providing the launch aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket.
Jabiru-1 is expected to provide Ka-band capacity to the Middle East and North Africa from one of several orbital slots that NewSat has secured. The satellite will not compete with Australia’s NBN Co. Ka-band consumer broadband system, the company has said.
In a report issued Aug. 27 on NewSat’s financial year ending June 30, the company said it has booked $601 million in firm orders for Jabiru capacity, including the Measat order. In addition to its export-credit financing, NewSat said it is “well progressed” in securing $200 million in equal portions of equity and debt finance.
NewSat has said the Jabiru project will expand as it takes advantage of eight orbital slots to which the company has rights. NewSat purchased orbital slot rights from AP Kypros Satellite Ltd. of Cyprus, which says it has acquired spectrum rights to nine orbital positions from the Cyprus government.
In its financial statement, NewSat said it had paid in cash the last payment to Kypros for the orbital slots, removing a contingent liability of 1 million euros ($1.25 million). NewSat also said it has amended its contract with Kypros to pay the Cypriot company 2.5 million ordinary shares of NewSat stock pending regulatory approval from the government of Cyprus.
It remains unclear exactly where these rights are in the priority list at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a Geneva-based United Nations affiliate that regulates orbital slots and their associated frequencies. Also unclear is when the Cypriot rights expire under the ITU’s use-it-or-lose-it deadlines.
Kypros has said that the slots have up to 3 gigahertz each of Ka-band capacity and that the company and the Cypriot government are “proceeding with the frequency coordination” with the ITU. The slots include “some C- and Ku-band spectrum, which can be used as feeder links or for hybrid services providing further revenue. One orbital slot also has rights to military UHF, S-band and X-band spectrum.”
Kypros said the slot with available military frequencies is at 57 degrees east.
If the Jabiru project develops as planned it will dwarf NewSat’s current business.
That business, providing telecommunications links via NewSat-owned teleports, reported sharply increased revenue and profit for the year ending June 30.
Revenue was 37.2 million Australian dollars ($37.8 million), up 29 percent from a year earlier. Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, more than doubled to 3.9 million Australian dollars.
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