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Business Picks Up At EurasiaSat

By | March 27, 2002

      Formed in 1996 to serve the growing demand for television broadcasting capacity between Turkey and Turkish speaking communities abroad, EurasiaSat’s business has been affected by the recent collapse of the Turkish economy and the slowing world economy. However, there are signs that business is picking up. Today, 50 percent of EurasiaSat’s capacity of 32 Ku-band transponders is already committed. Approximately 80 percent of this capacity (or 40 percent of the satellite’s total capacity) will be used to serve Europe, including Turkey.

      Based in Monaco, EurasiaSat is a joint venture formed by Turk Telekom and Alcatel Space. It operates a single satellite, Eurasiasat-1, a purpose-built high-power direct-to-home (DTH) satellite launched in January 2001. The company’s strategy is to serve the Turkish-speaking communities, which, due to coverage reasons, are not adequately served by other satellite operators. The core markets are Turkey and the Turkish communities in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and central Asia, amounting to about 150 million people. In addition to its two fixed beams, Eurasiasat-1 is configured with two Ku-band fixed-satellite service spot beams, which can be used to provide additional transponder capacity in the core markets or be deployed to provide service to other international markets as demand dictates. For instance, one of the spot beams is presently provides coverage over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

      The company’s objective is to attract TV bouquets together with multimedia applications at the 42 degree East orbital location, which is strategically situated between Europe and Asia. Two years ago, demand for capacity outstripped supply and the company’s original business plan estimated that between 80 percent to 90 percent of its capacity would be dedicated to TV broadcasting and the remainder to Internet related traffic.

      “Today, the ratio is about 70 percent television and 30 percent Internet,” said Ilhami Aygun, director general and CEO. “We prefer to focus on TV broadcasting as it is a more stable business for us with customers typically signing up for 5 years, 10 years or longer.” Major customers include the Turkish broadcasters such Star Digital, DigiTurk and TV8.

      Aygun expects that as the economic situation improves at least one or two additional Turkish bouquets will sign up, which should boost committed capacity considerably. The company should benefit from the expected growth in demand for interactive TV, video-on-demand and related multimedia services in the near future. “EurasiaSat has also been trying to strike deals with small Turkish TV companies based in Germany that want to broadcast their programming back home in Turkey. However, such deals have been elusive up to now, due mainly to the economic climate,” he said.

      Eurasiasat also provides Internet trunking for ISPs and telcos between Europe and Turkey and its neighbours. For instance, it serves several ISPs in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan that want to connect to the European Internet backbone. Although business is up, plans for EurasiaSat-2 are momentarily on hold.

      –Gareth Owen

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