Thaicom, AsiaSat To Share New Satellite

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand has agreed to pay competitor AsiaSat of Hong Kong $171 million over 15 years for the use of one-half of an AsiaSat satellite to be placed in a Thai orbital position in an arrangement that will permit Thailand to preserve its rights to the slot, the companies announced Dec. 15.

Under the agreement, the AsiaSat 6 satellite, which AsiaSat ordered in November from manufacturer Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., will be launched in 2014 and operated at 120 degrees east longitude. Thaicom will have access to up to half of the satellite’s 28 C-band transponders and will pay AsiaSat $170 million in installments over the satellite’s 15-year life, Thaicom said in a document filed with the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

The satellite will be renamed AsiaSat 6/Thaicom 7, the two companies said in a joint statement. Before its launch, AsiaSat and Thaicom will place an interim satellite at 120 degrees to retain Thailand’s regulatory rights to the slot.

International regulations oblige satellite operators to establish a presence at a reserved orbital slot within a certain number of years or risk having the position, and its associated broadcast frequencies, returned to the general pool and made available to other governments, and other satellite operators.

“We are pleased to establish this new partnership with AsiaSat to cooperate on a satellite project that will preserve the orbital slot for Thailand at 120 degrees East, and fulfill the fast growing demand for quality satellite capacity from customers in our country and across the region,” Thaicom Chief Executive Suphajee Suthumpun said in a Dec. 15 statement.

AsiaSat Chief Executive William Wade said the strategic agreement with Thaicom will permit AsiaSat to “expand our inventory and meet the growing demand from the region.”

In its stock-exchange filing, Thaicom said the investment, totaling about $171 million, “includes the satellite, its launcher and insurance, ground system and project administrative cost.”