Thaicom Has Record Quarter Despite IPStar Sales Drop

by

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand on May 12 said it expects all of its satellite-delivered television channels to be in high definition by 2030, with ultra-high-definition making its full commercial impact starting in 2019 and initial commercial service starting in 2017.

In a presentation to analysts, Thaicom said its record performance in the three months ending March 31 – an 8 percent increase in revenue from a year ago, including nearly 10 percent growth in satellite transponder revenue – was accomplished despite a sharp drop in sales of IPStar/Thaicom-4 consumer broadband terminals.

In a quarterly financial statement presented to the Stock Exchange of Thailand May 7, Thaicom said IPStar revenue from subscriber services and terminal sales was down 3.8 percent from the previous three months and 1.3 percent from a year ago.

The company said the appreciation of the Thai baht against the Japanese yen and the Australian dollar accounted for much of the decline and overmatched the revenue increase from Malaysia. Malaysian satellite operator Measat has contracted with Thaicom to use IPStar/Thaicom-4 to provide broadband connectivity in Malaysia.

IPStar is a large Ku-band satellite that delivers broadband Internet access via small terminals. Australia has been a large market. Australia’s NBN Co., which is building two Ka-band broadband satellites to serve Australia, has continued to increase its IPStar use as it awaits the arrival of its own spacecraft.

NBN has not detailed how and when it will transfer its Ku-band broadband customers using Thaicom, which number 50,000 or more, to the NBN Ka-band platform.

Thaicom 7, which was launched in September and entered commercial service in November, drove the satellite transponder revenue increase, Thaicom said. The company provides capacity from three satellites now, with Thaicom 8 – under construction by Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia – scheduled for launch in 2016.

Without going into details, the company said it would order one or more satellites by 2017 for entry into service around 2019.

Thaicom’s core orbital slot at 78.5 degrees east longitude carried 738 television channels as of March 31, including 110 high-definition channels. Total channel count was up 5 percent from a year ago.

For the three months ending March 31, Thaicom reported total revenue of 3.07 billion Thai baht, or $94.2 million at the March 31 exchange rate, an increase of 8 percent over the same period a year ago. Operating profit was up 18.5 percent to 654 million baht.

Satellite and related revenue for the three-month period was 2.3 billion baht, up 9.8 percent from a year ago and up 3.3 percent from the three months ending Dec. 31.