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The View From Intelsat General
Year In Review
by Kay Sears, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing & Business Development - Intelsat General Corporation

In 2007, Intelsat General Corporation saw the realization of the business synergies and market opportunities envisioned by the successful integration of PanAmSat’s G2 division into the company. During that year, Intelsat General has diversified its service offerings and repositioned SATCOM from a commodity to a value-added service to the U.S. government and NATO allies.

At the same time, company executives vigorously inserted themselves into the ongoing debate over how much satellite capacity the U.S. military should own versus lease commercially, as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan strained bandwidth capacity worldwide. Intelsat General also embarked on an aggressive program to augment its offerings in 2008 and beyond with customized payloads. As part of this “hosted payload” initiative, the company encouraged Pentagon planners to consider different methods of leveraging commercial assets, rather than relying completely on the prolonged procurement process for military-only satellites.

“It is critical that we keep a robust commercial industry so that when there are military gaps in the future, we are still there, ready with the right capacity,” said Kay Sears, Intelsat General Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development. “Military planners need to make sure that their messaging to the commercial providers is clear so we don’t move away from that market.”

Intelsat General is the government services arm of Intelsat Ltd. The firm grew out of the consolidation in 2006 of PamAmSat’s G2 Satellite Solutions Division and of Comsat General Corporation, acquired the previous year. While the U.S. military is the company’s biggest customer, Intelsat General also provides services to commercial customers, other U.S. government agencies, and to military forces allied with the United States through NATO.

During its first full year of operation after the PanAmSat merger, Intelsat General introduced a number of initiatives designed to move away from a focus on purely bandwidth sales. The emphasis today is on offering end-to-end solutions to customers through linkups with third-party providers of terrestrial equipment. Sears said that for the year, the company will be slightly ahead of its financial targets in all areas, and that customer renewals are sustaining the business as demand continues to show slight increases.

This growth was largely fueled by demand for bandwidth from military forces operating in combat zones for unmanned aerial vehicles, global positioning systems, field communications and a host of other activities that make extensive use of satellite capabilities. Largely as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the U.S. military has fulfilled approximately 80 percent of its capacity requirements through the use of commercial spacecraft, with military assets making up the remaining 20 percent. Some Pentagon planners have said that this ratio should be reversed. A number of military programs are now under consideration to expand the number of government-owned satellites into orbit, a move that could shift the bandwidth balance considerably over the next decade.
To counter the belief that only military-owned satellites can properly and securely serve the warfighter, Intelsat General undertook a number of initiatives. First and foremost was to reposition some of its fleet of 53 satellites, and to relocate customers so that an entire satellite serving Africa and the Middle East was freed up for almost exclusive military use.

“The Department of Defense likes to talk about Operationally Responsive Space, and this was truly responsive,” said Sears. “It would have taken years to get a military satellite in orbit with the bandwidth that we were able to provide in a matter of weeks.”

Another initiative was to establish the Intelsat General Secure Operations Center (ISOC) at Intelsat’s teleport facility at Ellenwood, Georgia. The ISOC has a highly trained, fully cleared staff of satellite network engineers and technicians who have been vetted by law enforcement and national authorities to monitor the most sensitive government communications. Working on a 24 x 7 schedule, the ISOC staff continuously monitors network operations and capacity to ensure that any communications problem is fixed immediately for its government and military customers worldwide. The ISOC has fiber connectivity to Intelsat’s worldwide terrestrial network.

Another Intelsat General 2007 milestone was its selection by the Department of Defense to participate in a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration to prove the viability of enhanced military communications using Internet Routing in Space (IRIS). The company is the first commercial satellite operator ever to win such an award. The IRIS payload will be launched on IS-14 in 2009.

Representing the next generation of space-based communications, IRIS will serve as an Internet router in the sky, enabling direct communication between diverse satellite ground terminals without the use of teleports. IRIS will demonstrate the utility of direct Internet routing in space for the military as well as the rapid development of new space technology using a government/industry joint initiative.

Sears said IRIS has two key benefits: it will test a new approach to satellite communications with broad military and commercial applications; and will demonstrate how a hosted payload can be placed aboard almost any commercial satellite more quickly, effectively and economically than the military can plan and launch a satellite of its own. To support her point, Sears cites research discussed at a November satellite conference in Washington DC showing that the military historically requires just over seven years to plan and launch a new satellite, and that average costs are 37 percent higher than originally forecast.

“With Intelsat General’s Hosted Payload offering, we present a capability that gives the military the best of both worlds,” Sears said. “We can deliver an operational satellite to orbit in under three years, on budget and with the exact payload the military needs.”

Another initiative Intelsat General plans to better serve government customers is the launch of its Horizons 2 satellite this month. Horizons 2 is an all-Ku band satellite that will be positioned to cover the continental United States (CONUS) and littoral waters over 300 nautical miles out to sea. The satellite is designed to support government and military applications, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), imagery dissemination within the continental United States, and broad area maritime surveillance along the East Coast of the United States.

Sears believes that these new efforts, combined with Intelsat General’s move toward bringing government customers more end-to-end solutions, will position the company for increased success in 2008. This will occur even if the conflicts in Asia and the Middle East begin to wind down.

“We are positioning ourselves to be responsive in all situations,” said Sears. “Our solutions are built around finding out what the customer needs and then delivering it.”

Kay Sears is responsible for the overall sales and strategic marketing and business development efforts for Intelsat General Corporation. Ms. Sears held a similar position at G2 Satellite Solutions before transitioning with the merger into Intelsat General. She has more than 18 years of experience in the satellite communications industry, including extensive experience in the marketing, sales and operation of managed network solutions to commercial, military and civilian agency customers.

Previously, she served as the Vice President of Government Services at Verestar where she launched that company’s government services business. Ms. Sears has also held sales and product development positions with Intelsat and Comsat World Systems and advanced the design and launch of Intelsat's Internet Via Satellite product line, @Intelsat. Ms. Sears has received an MBA from George Washington University and a BS from the University of Richmond.