Thaicom Posts Solid Gains in Revenue from Broadband

by

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand on Nov. 11 reported a 2 percent increase in satellite-related revenue for the nine months ending Sept. 30 and said its IPStar satellite consumer broadband service posted solid gains as subscriber-revenue growth outstripped a decline in terminal sales.

In a filing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Nonthaburi-based Thaicom said it had sent its aging Thaicom 2 satellite into a graveyard orbit Oct. 30. Thaicom 2, a Boeing 376 satellite model launched in 1994, had been taken out of service earlier this year to prepare for removal from the geostationary arc. It had surpassed its planned 15-year service life.

The Thaicom 5 satellite, a Thales Alenia Space Spacebus launched in 2006 with 25 C-band and 14 Ku-band transponders, is now Thaicom’s sole satellite at the 78.5 degrees east orbital slot. Thaicom said this orbital position continues to grow as a magnet for television broadcasters and counted 314 TV channels as of Sept. 30, up from 283 as of Jan. 1.

Thaicom said total satellite-related revenue for the nine months ending Sept. 30 was 3.42 billion Thai baht, or $111 million. In baht terms that is a 2 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The company said its results would have been better were it not for the appreciation of the baht against the dollar this year.

Thaicom’s Thaicom 4 satellite, also known as IPStar, delivers Ku-band consumer broadband to a wide swath of Asia, with Australia and New Zealand being key markets where subscriber growth has been spurred by government broadband stimulus programs.

For the nine months ending Sept. 30, IPStar revenue totaled 1.6 billion baht, or 47 percent of Thaicom’s total satellite revenue. IPStar revenue was up 7.4 percent over a year earlier.

IPStar posted its most notable gains on the service side of its business. Revenue there grew 39.4 percent, to 850 million baht, in the nine months ending Sept. 30. Sales of IPStar user terminals dropped 28.7 percent during the period, to 753 million baht.

Thaicom did not offer forecasts in its stock market submission of whether the decline in IPStar hardware revenue is expected to rebound, especially in nations in which the service is relatively new. It has taken Thaicom years to secure landing rights in all the nations covered by IPStar, a large Space Systems/Loral-built satellite launched in August 2005 and operating from 119.5 degrees east.

The company said one reason for the spectacular growth in service revenue is the proliferation of what it calls “Femtocells,” in which a 1.2-meter-diameter IPStar antenna attached to a user terminal creates temporary, mobile sites for cellular network operators.

Thaicom expects IPStar/Thaicom 4 will remain operational through 2021. The satellite, still one of the largest commercial satellites ever built, has a throughput capacity of 45 gigabits per second and is expected to deliver 14.4 kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its operating life.