Home >> June 2009 Edition >> BEAM
by Hartley Lesser, Editorial Director

The Asian and pan-Pacific market is a crucial component of the global satellite and ancillary business market. Indiginous and foreign investment in Asian projects continues to mount, expectations remain positive, albeit somewhat muted, all despite the worldwide economic “challenges” facing business. The Year of the Ox — 2009 — will require an even greater concentration on the core elements that help business succced — customer service and soul inspiring technologies.

As AsiaSat President Peter Jackson wrote regarding his company, “2009 will no doubt be a challenging year for all of us and we are heading into uncertain and difficult times that will affect our industry, our clients and their customers.” AsiaSat certainly has targeted success, as the Company celebrated 20 years of operation in Asia. They played an important and contributing role in telecasting and supporting a number of major world and sports events. During the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, AsiaSat satellites were the prime content delivery platforms for many global broadcasters as well as the service provider for live coverage of the most widely watched and successful Games in Olympic history. AsiaSat also signed Space Systems/Loral to produce AsiaSat-5C. This satellite will back up AsiaSat-5, which is also being currently built by SS/L and both are based on their 1300 satellite bus.

Continuing SATCOM investments are bringing services to Asia and the pan-Pacific region and are exemplified by a number of companies. With clients throughout Southwest Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, Mubadala Development Company and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (known as ‘Yahsat’) have achieved financial closure on their Yahsat satellite project. Yahsat will own both of the satellites through two, wholly-owned subsidaries, those being Al Yah Advanced Satellite Communications Services and Star Satellite Communications. Star will use its leased capacity to provide commercial customers with broadcasting services (such as HDTV through its ‘YahLive’ service via a partnership with SES ASTRA for broadcast via the 2010-scheduled launch of Yahsat-1A), Internet, and broadband (through its ‘YahClick’ service), corporate data networks, and backhauling services to telecom operators (through its ‘YahLink’ service), as well as space and ground communications for other clients throughout southwest Asia, MENA and Europe.

The UAE-based mobile satellite service (MSS) company, Thuraya, has invested the resources necessary to launch their services in Korea as the Company expands their presence in the Asia and pan-Pacific region of the globe. The business partner for Thuraya in this endeavor is Asia Pacific Systems, Inc., and they will provide the local services and solutions for customers. Thuraya will be providing border-to-border coverage in Korea with heightened interest in this service from government, marine and emergency services. This new offering is thanks to Thuraya’s recently launched Thuraya-3 satellite.

Additional SATCOM coverage is going to be offered to most of Central Asia and MENA, thanks to a new agreement between Satlynx and Arabsat for capacity on the Arabsat-5A satellite, starting in early 2010. Services to be offered include SCPC, iDirect, and DVB-based technologies — the Company is currenlty scoping, designing, and initiating the build phase of this project.

Boeing, back in April, was awarded a contract by Intelsat Ltd. to manufacture a satellite that will address customers in Asia, MENA, and Europe. Scheduled for a launch in early 2012, this satellite will also be accessed by the Australian armed forces. The latter is part of a deal signed between Intelsat and Australian Defence forces for a share of the increasing services provided by the commercial SATCOM sector for a capacity lease period of 15 years. As Intelsat’s CEO Dave McGlade said, “There is no longer a bright line between spacecraft owned by the government and the commercial sector.” By the way, Intelsat delivered the very first digital HD transmission between the U.S. and Japan on April 12th... 1989.

O3b Networks company founder and CEO Greg Wyler is also strong on the Asian market. He stated, “Our low latency, high bandwidth, affordable solution allows us to tap into the global pent up demand of emerging markets. To meet this growing demand we have now opened a regional office in the UAE and increased our sales team in the Asian region.” By 2010, O3b plans to have 16 satellites launched into orbit to provide inexpensive Internet service to billions of users in remote areas of the world, based on a fiber-optic network, and by allowing direct connection to core networks and 3G Cellular/WiMAX towers to service underdeveloped countries at reasonable cost.

Capacity renewals are also a “big deal”, and MEASAT Satellite Systems just recently renewed the contract for Asian Food Channel (AFC) on their MEASAT-3 satelite. AFC happens to be Southeast Asia’s only 24-hour food channel and is based in Singapore — the channel reaches some 15 million viewers in seven territories. Also garnering MEASAT-3 capacity is Telekon Malaysia Berhad for three more years for their communications services and solutions offering in broadband, data, and fixed-line services.

And Faizan Productions (Pvt.) Ltd. has signed a lease agreement for the use of C-band capacity on AsiaSat-3S to broadcast “Madani”, a religious channel, to Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East. The Madani Channel has commenced 24-hour, free to air distribution and offers a mix of religious programming including speeches, lectures, documentaries, talk shows, Hamds, Naats, religious travelog, in Urdu, Arabic and English languages.

The 40th spacecraft in the SES global fleet, NSS-9, entered commercial service to service the Pacific Ocean region, replacing NSS-5 at that slot. All traffic was successfully transfered. NSS-9 carries 44 active C-band 36 MHz equivalent transponders. The satellite features three beams that can interconnect on a transponder-by-transponder basis — a global beam provides coverage of the entire Earth visible from 183 degrees East; a West Hemi beam (covering Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, China, Korea and the Pacific Islands); and an East Hemi beam (providing coverage and connectivity to the continental U.S., Hawaii and Polynesia). With a minimum service life expectation of 15 years, NSS-9 is based on Orbital’s Star 2 satellite bus, offers a payload power of 2.3 kW, and features command encryption and key redundant on-board systems for maximum operational security. SES NEW SKIES has a marketing office located in the Chaoyang district in Beijing, China, in the Yintai Office Tower.

When it comes to service subscriptions, SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, HQ’d in Tokyo, Japan, as of the close of April of this year, has managed 65,603 new subscribers, with the number of re-registered subscribers coming in at nearly 8,000. Their monthly churn rate is 1.4 percent and the cumulative totals for SKY PerfecTV!, SKY PerfectTV! c2 and Wired Broadcasting Services is 3,730,825, an increase of 23,073 customers. Additionally, the Company has signed a procurement contract with Lockheed Martin for the JCSAT-13 satellite, which will be launched by Airanespace. This will be the successor to JCSAT-4A, currently occupying the orbital slot at 124 degrees East. JCSAT-13 will pack 44 Ku-band transponders as well as a beam for Japan, a beam for southeast Asia, and steerable beams for coverage ranging from the Middle East to southwest and southeast Asia and Oceania. Offerings will consist, primarily, of satellite broadcasting services, broadband backbone networks, emergency and communications links for digital-divide regions.

In Australia, IPSTAR Australia Pty Ltd (IPA), a subsidiary of Thaicom Public Company Limited, has now surpassed 60,000 connections since the firm’s inception in 2003. IPA also announced they now offer an open access policy to any service provider who would like to access the THAICOM-4 satellite capacity and use it with their ground system of choice to deliver Australian rural broadband requirements. THAICOM-4 is a High Throughput Satellite (HTS) that IPA uses in conjunction with the IPSTAR ground system to deliver those 60,000 connections today.

There has certainly also been the requisite amount of tension throughout Asia, but there have also been examples of purported camaraderie afoot — the Chinese government is offering Indonesia a remote sensing satellite to help monitor the seas surrounding that nation’s islands.

As reported by the Antara News Agency in Jakarta, the satellite “will be used for monitoring happenings and developments in the sea.” The agency quoted Tri Yuswoyo, the head of the Indonesia Maritime Security Co-ordinating Board, Badan Koordinasi Keamanan Laut (Bakorkamla), stating the archipelago nation had a vast maritime area, but monitoring capabilities were limited. Yuswoyo said that many government agencies are conducting activities at sea such as the customs and excise office, the maritime and fisheries ministry, and the navy.

He said the satellite would be owned and operated by Bakorkamla, but data from the satellite (with a reported sub-5m resolution, possibly via a small SAR payload) could be used by other national agencies. No details regarding the satellite’s exact capabilities were revealed by either Chinese or Indonesian officials.

In the satellite launch department for Asian and pan-Pacific coverage, IndoStar II | ProtoStar II is operating normally following its launch on May 17th abord a Proton Breeze M vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Boeing manufactured the satellite, and International Launch Services took care of the rocket empowerment.

Upcoming in late August is the expected launch of MEASAT-3a, the fourth satellie in MEASAT’s fleet. Orbital Sciences Corp. built the satellite, which will find its way to orbital slot 91.5 degrees East, courtesy of a LandLaunch Zenith–3SLB launch vehicle. MEASAT-3a will be packing C- and Ku-band capacity.

Global Vision and International Datacasting are bringing the latter’s digital cinema products to the Asian and Pacific region, featuring IDC’s SuperFlex Pro Cinema product that delivers file-based movies and live events over broadband satellite networksusing DVB-S2 broadcast technology. Growth potential? How about more than 20,000 screens in this region of the world.

Based in Spain, GMV has taken to the road and has now opened offices in Asia, one in Malaysia and the other in the Korean Republic. The former is in Kuala Lumpur in the Business Center near the Spanish Embassy’s Economic and Trading Office, and the latter is located in Seoul at the Invest Korea Plaza.

Inmarsat’s BGAN X-Stream service, available through Vizada, is commercially available for users located in Asia, and the service is totally accessible from all BGAN Class 1 terminals from HNS and Thrane & Thrane with the added plus that no extra hardware is required - which means no additional costs need to be considered! X-Stream brings into play data rates of up to 450 kbps, with a minimum of 384 kbps.

Did someone mention satellite antenna systems? C-COM Satellite Systems certainly did, as their iNetVu Mobile system has received a whole slew of orders from their resellers in Vietnam, China, New Zealand, India and Malaysa. They will be deployed mostly by government agencies for public safety needs as well as by telecom providers for mobile marketing and cell backup, and for SNG operations.

As far as trade exhibitions and conventions are concerned, the major-major is the CommunicAsia2009 Summit, which is held alongside BroadcastAsia2009 this is Asia’s largest infocomm exhibition. Highlighted will be infrastructure technologies and how to leverage them to increase profitability. The four-day Summit will feature a balance of mainstay business and technology issues. Delegates can look forward to exciting conference topics such as Mobile Services and Business Models, Network Enablers and Architectures, Satellite Communications, Green Telecoms, Mobile Marketing and Advertising, Mobile TV and Entertainment, IPTV, and Next Generation Broadband. The latter will discuss issues operators face as they seek to meet the increasing consumer demand for bandwidth connectivity. More than 100 speakers from industry giants such as Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, THAICOM, Telekom Malaysia, City Telecom (HK), Intel Corporation, TANBERG Television, and Yahoo! will be featured.

The SATCOM market climate and activity in Asia and the pan-Pacific region is far from sloth-like. The SatNews.com daily news site is continuously addressing new items from this important region of the world on a nearly daily basis — after all, growth sectors within our industry deserve the press recognition and financial rewards resultant of solid business acumen and the ability to quickly and affordably address customer needs. Given the aforementioned positives and scores more, one could say that business in Asia is good!