SingTel is aiming to double the size of its satellite business, with two satellite launches scheduled within the next two years.
The Singapore-based company declined to reveal how much the satellite business contributed to total revenue, but Titus Yong, VP of SingTel’s satellite division, told a media roundtable the segment was enjoying double digit year-on-year growth.
The segment’s growth has prompted SingTel to invest in two upcoming satellites – the $200 million ST-2, due to launch
May 20 and the ST-3, which is due to launch in 2013. The ST-2 is a joint venture with Chunghwa Telecom, with SingTel holding a 62% stake; SingTel will hold an S$80 million ($64.9 million) stake in the ST-3, which is a joint venture with Asia Broadcast Satellite.
The ST-2 is slated to replace SingTel’s ST-1 satellite, which will be decommissioned come 2013. Yong said the ST-2 will be running at close to 70% capacity due to the customer transfer from the ST-1. The ST-2 will be co-located on the ST-1’s current 88 degrees east orbital slot and is expected to achieve full service by September.
“We’re banking on the growing market for TV channel subscribers in India, and a newer, more powerful satellite like the ST-2 allows you to serve more customers,” Yong said.
The craft's C-band and Ku-band coverage will span central and southeast Asia, India and the Middle East.
The ST-3, which will be built by Palo Alto-based Loral Space Systems, will allow SingTel to extend coverage over Africa and the Middle East, said Yong. “SMEs in Singapore can branch into these emerging markets while keeping their data centers in Singapore.”
SingTel’s satellite business works on providing connectivity to places where network infrastructure is lacking, says Yong. The business currently serves a variety of verticals such as the oil and gas, maritime, defense and financial services sectors.
“Emerging markets may have submarine cable landing points, but satellites come into play when infrastructure within the country is poor,” Yong said. “Financial services institutions operating ATM and credit card networks in emerging markets with poor infrastructure will need to utilize satellites to facilitate data transmission.”
SingTel’s customers include a French bank operating in Vietnam and an Australian bank operating in the Pacific islands.