Eutelsat Records Healthy 1Q 2012 Growth; Outlines Fleet Expansion Plan
[Satellite News 11-04-11] European satellite operator Eutelsat enjoyed a strong 2012 first fiscal quarter with a 3.4 percent increase in revenues at 295.4 million euros ($408.7 million) compared with the same period last year and expects its recently launched Atlantic Bird 7 and W3C satellites to contribute expanded income from surrounding regional markets.
According to the operator’s latest financial results issued Nov. 4, Eutelsat generated most of its revenue from video applications. The sector drove a 1.4 percent increase in revenues in the first quarter 2012 at 198.2 million euros ($274.2 million). Eutelsat expanded its TV broadcast portfolio by 252 channels compared with the same period last year to reach a total of 3,952 channels carried by its fleet at the end of September. The number of HD channels broadcast by Eutelsat’s fleet also increased year-over-year from 192 in the first quarter 2011 to 239 in its most recent quarter.
Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen also highlighted the strength of his multi-usage segment, which had the highest revenue growth rate of all the operator’s divisions. Eutelsat multi-usage revenues jumped 25.8 percent from the same quarter one year ago to 36.2 million euros ($50 million), driven by demand for government services, capacity lease renewals from existing contracts and new contracts signed on satellites covering North Africa and the Middle East.
“[The first quarter 2012] reflects a temporary transitional period for our company until current capacity constraints, resulting from two years of stronger than expected up-take of our in-orbit resources, are alleviated,” de Rosen said in a statement. “Atlantic Bird 7 and W3C will enter into full commercial service during the 2012 second quarter. Both of these satellites cover fast-growing video markets including the Middle East, North Africa and central Europe. The W3C satellite also will significantly expand our capacity to serve data markets in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and central Asia.”
According to de Rosen, the combination of Atlantic Bird 7 and W3C with five additional Eutelsat satellites scheduled for launch by June 2014 will enable the operator to meet continued underlying demand in a variety of its markets.
“We therefore confirm our revenue target for the 2012 full year of more than 1.235 billion euros ($1.7 billion) and more than 7 percent CAGR for the 2011-2014 outlook period, accompanied by an EBITDA margin of above 77 percent,” said de Rosen.
Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird 7 was launched in late September and entered into commercial service Oct. 23 at the 7 degrees West orbital slot. The satellite offers broadcast coverage over the Middle East and North Africa and is operated in close coordination with Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat. The spacecraft currently broadcasts 394 Arab and international channels to an audience of nearly 30 million satellite homes. Atlantic Bird 7 has 11 more transponders than the Atlantic Bird 4A satellite that it replaced. De Rosen said the switch was designed to significantly increased its video resources in an identified key broadcast market across the Gulf states and up to the Atlantic coast of Northwest Africa.
“The Atlantic Bird 4A satellite completed its mission and will now be released to continue full commercial service at another Eutelsat location at three degrees East to address data and telecom markets in Europe and South-West Asia. It will be called Eutelsat 3C and will be co-located at 3 degrees East with Eutelsat 3A,” de Rosen explained.
The W3C satellite, launched Oct. 7, is set to commence service Nov. 9, supporting broadcast services to Central Europe and Indian Ocean islands, as well as data markets in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia from the orbital position at 16 degrees East. W3C replaces Eutelsat’s Eurobird 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites with 53 Ku-band and three Ka-band transponders supporting broadcasting and telecom/data services for several markets.
One of the W3C satellite’s footprints was optimized for DTH broadcasting in Central Europe. De Rosen said the operator’s strategy is to anchor the 16 degrees East orbital position as a point of reference for satellite TV in the region, as it currently hosts 481 TV channels and serves more than 11 million households. A second beam over the Indian Ocean islands aims to help broadcasters accelerate regional transitions to digital, including free-to-air channels to the French departments of Mayotte and the Reunion Islands.
A third beam will serve Europe, North Africa and the Middle East with expanded capacity for data networks and newsgathering, and a fourth Ku-band beam at 16 degrees East will connect an area from Senegal to Madagascar to its European Ka-band service. “This will respond to high-growth applications that include GSM backhaul and Internet access for enterprises and public agencies,” de Rosen said.
Eutelsat’s Eurobird 16 and Sesat 1 satellites will go into inclined orbit at 16 degrees East after WC3 enters into service, with W2M redeployed to an alternative location. Eutelsat also commissioned a high-capacity Ku-band satellite from manufacturer Astrium. The satellite, named Eutelsat 9B, is set for launch to the nine degrees East orbital slot at the end of 2014.