Thaicom Reports Turnaround in 2011

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand on Feb. 15 reported a 24 percent increase in revenue from its satellite services division in 2011, saying its conventional satellite business grew with new television broadcasters while its IPStar consumer broadband division saw much higher usage rates.

The company, which in 2011 agreed to spend some $330 million on two new satellites, said that after a poor 2010, its Thaicom 2 and Thaicom 5 satellite revenue returned to growth as new television broadcasters were added to its customer base. As of Dec. 31, Thaicom said its satellites were carrying 420 TV channels, up from 358 a year earlier.

Thaicom in May agreed to spend $160 million for a mid-sized satellite to be built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and launched by a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket in mid-2013. The cost figure includes the satellite’s construction, launch and insurance.

In December, Thaicom agreed to pay satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong $171 million in twice-yearly installments over 15 years to own up to one-half of the AsiaSat 6 satellite, whose Thaicom-owned transponders will be branded Thaicom 7. The deal enabled Thaicom to maintain its rights to the 120 degrees east orbital slot.

AsiaSat 6/Thaicom 7, under construction by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., is scheduled for launch in 2014, also aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

For the 12 months ending Dec. 31, Thaicom reported total revenue from its satellite services and related businesses of 5.7 billion Thai baht, or $179 million at year-end exchange rates. That is a 24 percent increase over 2010 in Thai baht, and in dollar terms a jump of 40 percent. Over the course of 2011, the U.S. dollar dropped about 5 percent in value relative to the baht.

Some 43 percent of the company’s satellite revenue came from the Thaicom 2 and Thaicom 5 satellites.

The remaining 57 percent was generated by IPStar, a Ku-band broadband satellite providing consumer access to the Internet in more than a dozen countries in the Pacific Ocean region. IPStar service revenue was up 59 percent in 2011, to 2.6 billion baht.

Sales of IPStar user terminals and other IPStar hardware dropped by nearly 8 percent, to 672 million baht, in what Thaicom said was a consequence of the company’s decision in early 2011 to permit other manufacturers’ terminals to be used with IPStar.

In a Feb. 15 filing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Thaicom said IPStar service revenue in 2011 increased particularly in India, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

When it was launched in August 2005, IPStar’s 45 gigabits per second of throughput made it one of the most powerful commercial satellites ever placed into service. The company selected Ku-band over Ka-band because it was a better-known technology at the time, and because Ku-band offers better resistance to rain.

 

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