Forthnet Hopes Ka-Sat Broadband Launch Pays off in Greece, Cyprus
[Satellite News 01-04-12] Greek telco Forthnet made a significant strategic move last November in launching its new Forthnet Satellite Broadband service on Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat satellite. Forthnet Chief Commercial Officer Yiannis Kavaklis told Satellite News that the service launch aims to target about 800,000 customers in Greece that are not served by terrestrial options.
“This is a relatively huge number of people in Greece. Satellite is the only technology to reach all these people and meet their demand for true broadband services,” he said. “We already address the rest of the population using our owned fixed line network for broadband ADSL and voice services. We can also bundle satellite services along with pay-TV services, giving a real ultimate combination to our customers, bringing true broadband experience and prime TV content to Greek households.”
Forthnet already operates the Nova TV digital broadcasting service in Greece and Cyprus and has a large presence across the regional market, serving about 760,000 households in the two territories with communications services. Approximately 130,000 of those customers take a combination of services, with close to 370,000 subscribing to its satellite pay-TV service.
While Kavaklis is optimistic that satellite broadband will have a noticeable impact on the Greek market, initial forecasts for take-up are cautious. Kavaklis admits that a training and education period will be needed to get the market familiar with the product.
“Our first estimates are about a few thousand new satellite broadband users in the first 12 months, which will be the early adopters,” he said. “Our main message to educate the public is that our Forthnet satellite broadband service can give everyone the possibility for true broadband experience to enjoy services with high data download speeds, regardless if their area is adequately covered by terrestrial networks of copper or optical fiber. The service is addressed to all those who live or have a holiday home in areas that have no access to fixed broadband Internet, have problems accessing service or can only access low-speed services of less than 2 Megabits-per-second.”
Forthnet conducted excessive market research before deciding to launch a satellite broadband service in Greece. According to Kavaklis, that research allowed his company to conclude that satellite was the only technology that could provide broadband services with the widest possible coverage and without restrictions.
“Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat is a state-of-the-art satellite built exclusively for the provision of satellite broadband services. Forthnet Group became the first pan-European provider of triple play services using a single satellite dish,” said Kavaklis. “There is no capital expenditure involved for our satellite broadband platform, as Forthnet Group is the distributor of a custom-made service created by Eutelsat to cover our needs. It is a commercial agreement and our role is to make available broadband satellite services to the general public in Greece and Cyprus. All such investments, in terms of our supportive role, have already been done.”
Forthnet knows it is launching these services at a time when the Greek economy is really struggling. The country, like many in the Eurozone, has been plagued with debt issues, creating a difficult political environment. “We are moving very strongly in covering the qualitative and economic needs of the Greek family, providing innovative services and a very attractive bundling of services. Our goal is to broaden our subscriber base primarily through increasing the number of customers using a combination of Forthnet broadband services and Nova satellite TV. It is noteworthy that the number of such subscribers in our customer base have already surpassed 126,000, within a period of less than two years.”
The company also is aiming to lead the way in Greek HD and 3-D TV service with an editorial team of 60 people working every day to produce live programs. “We have the most experienced technical and editorial staff, several HD studios, equipment and 12 years of know-how that cannot be acquired by the competition,” Kavaklis said. “Another factor is innovation. Nova is the first platform to bring the HD viewing experience in Greece and now will be the first to also bring the first 3-D viewing experience by implementing the first 3-D pilot broadcasting in our country.”