Telesat: Ka-band Expansion May Offset Nimiq-4 Delay
[Satellite News – 09-10-08] Since Telesat president Dan Goldberg sat down with Satellite News in January 2008, certain events have altered the course for the Canadian FSS operate – some for the better and some for the worse. Goldberg recently spoke with Satellite News News Editor Jeffrey Hill to show how better-than-expected Ka-band activity and health Latin American markets may offset some of the year’s low points.
Goldberg first addressed the Proton Breeze M’s launch failure in April 2008.
“The failure caused a three to four month delay in our Nimiq 4 program,” said Goldberg. “Nimiq 4 is sold out to Bell TV (formerly Bell Expressvu, a DTH provider in Canada) so we lost three to four months in revenue from that satellite. We have not disclosed what the exact impact is but it will have adverse impact on our financial performance this year. We are still having a good year, but it would have been better if we had that satellite up on time.”
International Launch Services (ILS) has rescheduled the launch of Nimiq 4 to Sept. 19. ILS will launch the satellite from Bakinour with two payloads for Canadian broadcasters. The main payload will provide specialty television and foreign language programming. The second payload has six beams covering Canada for such advanced services as high-definition television – 32 channels in Ku-band and 8 channels in Ka-band.
Goldberg is still as optimistic about Ka-band as he was in January and said the demand is there to prove its value.
“Both of our Ka-band satellites are getting capacity constrained right now,” said Goldberg, referencing to Anik F2, dominated by WildBlue for rural Internet use in the U.S. and Anik F3 by Dish Network. “We have a couple of opportunities to add Ka-Band capacity. We have an option for the Canadian payload on the ViaSat 1 satellite. We also have an expansion Ka-band authorization at our 118.7 degree slot where Anik F3 is located. We are going to be working closely with our customers in Canada.”
To give Canadian customers the first shot at Telesat capacity, Goldberg followed Canadian government regulatory requirements by sending out a notice that capacity was up for grabs. However, Goldberg said this is not how Telesat usually draws domestic business.
“Our Canadian customers do not respond to this sort of abroad advertisement,” said Goldberg. “The response has seen nothing particularly special.”
Whether this is a sign of caution on the part of Canadian customers or a lack of awareness has yet to be seen. Industry executives agree that the North American Ka-band market is growing and should be jumped on.
Via Satellite recently reported on the Ka-band potential for ViaSat 1.
"We estimate our costs of bandwidth in space for ViaSat-1 to be about one-tenth of the cost of the even the best second generation Ka-band satellites, i.e., Spaceway, and 100 times more cost-efficient than Ku-band fixed satellite services," ViaSat CEO Mark Dankberg said.
With this satellite, ViaSat said it can serve several million subscribers at a competitive speed of 2 megabits per second, compared to today’s median DSL speed of 768 kilobits per second.
Goldberg said that in addition to local Ka-band growth, markets south of the Canadian border are flourishing.
“We have got three satellites that serve Latin America, Telstar 12, Telstar 14 and Anik F1 and we have increased our utilization in both C-band and Ku-band across all of those satellites,” said Goldberg. “Demand has improved meaningfully, pricing has improved and our own utilization has really benefited from these markets.”
When asked if the current market statistics matched his expectations in Janurary, when he told Satellite News that he was looking to capitalize on all markets in North America, he responded, “Yes, maybe even more so than we originally thought.”