Paris — Satellite-fleet operator Shin Satellite of Thailand reported a 23.8 percent increase in satellite-lease and related revenues in 2006 compared to 2005 on the strength of its fast-growing Ipstar broadband project and the continued growth of regional satellite television programming.
The company said its fleet of four satellites generated sales totaling 4.36 billion Thai baht ($130 million) in 2006. During the year, the aging Thaicom 3 satellite was replaced by the new Thaicom 5. Thaicom 3 was subsequently retired before it could make commercial inroads into the Middle East market, a new target for Shin.
In addition to leasing capacity on its satellites, Shin Satellite Public Co. Ltd. also markets ground terminals for its Ipstar/Thaicom 4 broadband system. Ipstar/Thaicom 4, one of the biggest commercial telecommunications satellites ever built, was launched in August 2005. Shin in 2006 paid $7.4 million in in-orbit insurance premiums for the satellite.
Securing regulatory approval to market Ipstar service throughout the satellite’s coverage area — a region covering almost all of Asia, including India and China — has proved more difficult than expected, slowing sales.
But Shin now has built Ipstar ground gateways in seven nations, including three gateways in China. Shin said that as of Dec. 31, the company had distributed 66,056 Ipstar user terminals in its home market of Thailand. The company said that milestone and a business-friendly regulatory regime in Australia were the main Ipstar success stories in 2006.
Australia in particular has welcomed Ipstar as part of a government promotion of broadband to rural areas that includes subsidies for terminal purchases. Shin has built two Ipstar gateways in Australia. In Thailand, Ipstar has been used in a VSAT-type, or very small aperture terminal, application to provide rural telephone services.
In late 2006, Shin signed an agreement with RaySat Antenna Systems LLC of Vienna, Va., to offer a mobile two-way broadband service to vehicles using a RaySat-provided, 15-centimeter dish mounted on vehicle hoods.
Shin said revenues from leasing transponders on the Thaicom 1A, 2, 3 and 5 satellites totaled 2.56 billion baht in 2006, an increase of 4.5 percent. The company said increased utilization of these satellites was offset by the appreciation of the baht on international exchanges. The baht appreciated by more than 12 percent against the U.S. dollar in 2006.
Revenues from Ipstar totaled 1.8 billion baht in 2006, the satellite’s first full year of in-orbit service — a 68 percent increase from 2005. Much of this revenue was from the sale of Ipstar user terminals. Nearly 40,000 terminals were sold in 2006, compared to 18,000 in 2005.