TSBc CEO: Maritime Market Ripe for Successful Ka-band Business Model

By | September 18, 2012 | Broadcasting, Feature, Telecom

[Satellite News 09-18-12] Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSBc) is one of a number of operators that sees a great opportunity in the maritime market. The company, which is planning on launching its Thor 7 satellite in the early part of 2014 is seeing increased demand for services from the shipping community. TSBc launched its Thor 6 satellite back in 2009, which bought the operator a great deal of expansion capacity. It recently commissioned its Thor 7 satellite in 2011, when Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) won the contract to build this satellite.

   The satellite’s Ka-band payload is fitted with spot beams covering in areas including the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, the Red Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean.
   TSBc CEO Cato Halsaa hopes the Thor 7 Ka-band payload will address the surge in demand for high bandwidth requirements from the maritime industry and deliver a bandwidth efficient service with high bit rates to meet customers’ expectations. Halsaa spoke with Satellite News about how the payload would give TSBc extra opportunities to sell into the maritime vertical.
 
Satellite News: Why did you make the decision to employ a Ka-band payload on Thor 7?
 
Halsaa: Our Ku-band capacity on Intelsat 10-02 is nearly exhausted. In order for us to continue to grow new markets we needed to find new capacity. Ka-band is just an excellent opportunity for us to get this expansion capacity. Everybody needs always on connectivity and the need for capacity is growing. If you think about these ships, they are very big capital investments. The ship owners want to integrate these platforms the same way companies wants to integrate their factories. This is where all this is coming from. To retain crew in today’s world, you need to offer them strong communications services.
 
Satellite News: Will Thor 7 help expand your revenues in the maritime market?
 
Halsaa: We are already seeing strong revenue growth in this market, and this is likely to continue once the Thor 7 satellite is launched. We are in the middle of completing the swap of capacity where we have directed Middle East capacity back into Europe. As a result, we have managed to grow with a number of good maritime customers for Ku-band, and some of them have already indicated a willingness to expand into Ka-band.
 
Satellite News: Are you planning for any new satellites beyond Thor 7?
 
Halsaa: Our strategy is that at first we need to be successful with Thor 7, which will commence commercial operation in 2014. We need to make sure we have some customers signed up. We have Thor III protecting our frequencies at 4 degrees West and have an opportunity to put a 40 channel satellite up there. However at this stage it is to early to speculate on what we might do there. We are toying with various options to find the market potential for those channels. In terms of Thor 7, we have already made some good inroads and signed our first co-operative agreement with Norsk Romsenter.
 
Satellite News: Is it possible that TBSc could employ an electric-propulsion model for a new satellite as similar regional operator have already done with Boeing?
 
Halsaa: When we start thinking about the next satellite, this will surely be one option which we will look at very closely. Electric propulsion has been around for a long time. With the Boeing business it has for the first time blossomed into an interesting satellite proposition for smaller operators. We think it is great that a company is trailblazing in this way with new technology.
 
Satellite News: Now that the IBC conference has wrapped up, what do you think about the increased buzz about Ultra HD and OTT?
 
Halsaa: I hope the recent industry buzz around ultra-HD will come to fruition. 4K is much more promising than 3-D TV. 3-D TV did not offer a lot of new bandwidth for us. It is complicated in the servers and homes. It is complicated for broadcasters. 4K will be a driver like HD has been. But, HD is by no means complete. I think 4K will become as important to the satellite industry as HD was.
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