Intelsat Exec Spells Out Eastern Europe Ambitions

By | October 18, 2007 | Broadcasting, Feature

[10-18-07 – Satellite News] Intelsat’s deal to acquire 10 transponders on Telenor Satellite Broadcasting‘s Thor 6 satellite, to be launched in 2009, is an indication that Intelsat expects strong growth opportunities in Central and Eastern European region, according to Stephen Spengler, Intelsat’s senior vice president, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific sales.

"It has been an exceptionally vibrant region for the video business in recent years,”Spengler told Satellite News. "We have seen strong growth in Eastern and Central Europe, and we expect to see continued growth. The partnership allows us to continue to address that opportunity. It helps us support our customers in the region over the longer term with more capacity.”

The agreement also will support Telenor’s plans with its 1° West orbital slot, said Rob Wise, business development director at Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. "Telenor and Intelsat have jointly developed 1 degree West as a major location in the European market and see this deal as a natural extension of our long standing relationship,”he said. "It is very similar to the Intelsat 10-02 contract and came as no surprise as it is indicative of the quality of the 1 degree West proposition and the level of confidence in the market.”

Spengler was reluctant to say how much capacity Intelsat hopes to sell prior to the launch of Thor 6. "We know that demand is strong. When we sell it — that is a tough prediction,”he said. "We see strong demand and interest in it. We are marketing it now. Whether it would all be sold before launch it is tough to predict. We haven’t set a target in terms of how much capacity we hope to sell by 2009. We are in our five-year business planning process right now, and I am sure we are going to be modeling that. But based on market interests and feedback, we are confident that this is going to sell and be successful for us.”

One of Intelsat’s flagship deals in the region is with a Romanian pay-TV operator Romania Cable Systems (RCS), which offers DTH services in Romania as well as territories like Slovakia and Hungary. “I think when you have a big player like RCS as a customer, their success/failure could impact our operations,”Spengler said. "But it is not purely based on that. Other customers have interests in our capacity. We have a diversity of customers across media and telecom sectors, so our success is not solely based on one customer’s performance.”

It is more than likely that Intelsat may need more capacity to serve the region over the next two to three years, Spengler said. "If the demand is as we anticipate we will continue to look for ways to bring more capacity into the region, either through our own capabilities or through partnerships,”he said. "It is a continuing process that we have going on. This is not the only thing we will do. We will look for ways to make sure we are able to grow with the market place.”

Further cooperative deals, either with Telenor Satellite Broadcasting or other operators, could be an avenue for Intelsat to further expand its reach.

"I think these cooperative arrangements are quite beneficial,”Spengler said. "It allows us to continue to build out capacity between some of our own satellite programs as well as giving us the ability to be creative and find ways of keeping the supply of capacity coming along when we are between our own launch programs.”

Spengler believes there could also be further cooperation between Intelsat and Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. "We have a long-standing relationship with them,”he said. "We will look at other opportunities to do things with them. That is not to say something is imminent, but we always look for new ways to work with partners and find new opportunities to be successful together.”

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