Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) is one of the new breed of satellite operators trying to make an impact in Asia. The company, founded less than two years ago, was established to meet the growing demands of broadcast and telecommunications operators in the Indian Ocean Region.
ABS founders Thomas Choi and Gregg Daffner took a quicker route to space than most satellite operators, working with major shareholder Citigroup Venture Capital International and with the financial backing of Asia Debt Management to acquire the Lockheed Martin Intersputnik (LMI) satellite operator from Lockheed Martin. (Daffner resigned as president of ABS in April but will remain a strategic advisor and individual shareholder.)
The satellite, renamed ABS-1, began commercial operations in the 2006 fourth quarter and throughout the last two years, ABS has been working hard to establish its presence in the region. Since the launch, ABS has secured some interesting deals.
In October, the operator announced an intriguing cooperation with Vietnam Telecom International, a subsidiary of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Vietnam’s largest telecommunications company. Under a memorandum of understanding, the two companies will exchange capacity on ABS-1 and VinaSat-1, which was lofted into orbit in April. The agreement also provides for joint cooperation for telecommunications and satellite services.
ABS is also casting its eye toward markets outside of Asia, such as the Middle East. In April 2007, ABS teamed up with Batelco, a leading telecommunications company in the Middle East, to offer broadband satellite services in the Middle East as well as Asia.
ABS also plans to expand its capacity offerings with the scheduled launch of the ABS-2 satellite, which will carry more than 60 transponders, in 2010.
In an exclusive interview to Via Satellite, Tom Choi, CEO of ABS, discusses the operator’s growth plans and how the new satellites it is planning will enable it to become more of a force throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Via Satellite: What demands are you seeing for satellite capacity in Asia?Choi
: The demand for satellite capacity in Asia is currently being driven by growth in cellular trunking, VSAT and local cable TV distribution channels. Currently a lot of C-band capacity in the Asia-Pacific region is being used for IP transit, point-to-point backbone services, but this segment of the market is diminishing in both profitability as well as volume.
Via Satellite: What will be the major growth markets for ABS?Choi
: We are bullish in the growth of [cable] TV distribution, cellular backhaul as well as the emergence of low-cost Ku-band VSAT terminals for affordable rural connectivity services.