TSB CEO: Thor 6 Capacity Nearly Full, Thor 7 in Planning Phase

By | February 16, 2009 | Broadcasting, Feature

[Satellite News 02-16-09] Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSB) will have very little new capacity to sell, even after it launches its Thor 6 satellite later this year, Cato Halsaa, TSB’s CEO told Satellite News
    “We expect the satellite to be launched later this year [Q3, 2009]," said Halsaa. "We have significant growth capacity on the satellite and see tremendous interest in the capacity on the satellite. We expect the 1º West orbital position to become a broadcasting hot spot for the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region. We are already reaching 2.5 million DTH households and a further five million in cable head end reach from this position. We see a big customer interest in this position. The satellite has 36 transponders. We expect to have sold 75-80 percentage of the capacity already sold at launch.”
    The operator has seen strong take-up for its capacity. Its Thor 5 satellite, which was launched last year, is also full.
    “We are very pleased with the financial performance of Thor 5, and it has been in commercial service for nine months, and we have commitments for all of the capacity on the satellite. So, we are very pleased with what we have achieved so far,” said Halsaa.
    Even with so much capacity being sold on Thor 5 and Thor 6, Halsaa would not give an exact timeline on a potential Thor 7 satellite. However, Halsaa admitted the operator was now in the “planning phase” for the satellite.  “We are planning for more capacity. We have plans, but as yet, but no commitments for new satellites," said Halsaa. "We are not going to announce anything any time soon. But, we are in the planning phase. The new satellite will be a broadcasting and data communications satellite, but it will not be a broadband to consumer satellite.”
    Halsaa is also confident the operator can have a strong 2009 despite difficult economic conditions. “We are expecting growth in 2009. But, we remain realistic and recognize that the satellite and broadcasting industry will not be completely untouched by the recession," he said.
    High-definition, as well as the emergence of DTH operators in Central and Eastern Europe will help the operator’s growth. CEE is seen as a hotspot for DTH services.
    Roger Bolton, VP of business development at Tandberg Television said, “There are more platforms launching in Eastern Europe. Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are seeing a number of new platforms. I guess when the infrastructure is very weak, the satellite operators can get up there pretty quickly with services that IPTV and cable might have trouble emulating.”
    In terms of TSB’s growth, Halsaa said that the growth in the Nordic region will come from continued demand for more programs and more HD services. "Recent evidence in the Nordic region suggests the introduction of HD services is faster than the original market expectations as DTH operators seek to establish related competitive advantage against other platforms," he said. "TSB also has an increased position in CEE and there is a clear and continuous trend for continued steady growth in DTH operators and fertile ground for HD services. We also see a healthy growth in data communications and as prices continue to strengthen.”
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