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Spacecom CEO Plans Global Trajectory for Amos Satellite Brand

By Caleb Henry | December 9, 2013
      Amos emerging market capacity

      David Pollack, CEO of Spacecom. Photo: Spacecom

      [Via Satellite 12-09-13] Spacecom has kept all five of its satellites working at close to full capacity with business from DTH operators, TV channels, and North American agencies for most of their existence. A year after launching the highly successful Amos 4, the company has continued to impress, but not without overcoming some challenges. Spacecom ultimately hopes to use its Amos brand of satellites to become a global operator. David Pollack, CEO of Spacecom, spoke with Via Satellite on how the company plans to reach this goal.

      Spacecom has been propelled by a strong customer interest in its Amos 4 satellite, which covers Russia, South East Asia and China with Ku- and Ka-band beams. Earlier this year a satellite data communications provider in Southeast Asia bought all of Amos 4’s Ku-band capacity. The deal, worth $77 million dollars, is for VSAT, mobile backhaul, maritime and other services throughout the Southeast Asia region. “We are also moving forward on deals to secure long term capacity for Ka-band on Amos 4,” said Pollack. “Russia and other regions in Asia are our current targets … we are targeting data providers as well as broadband service providers and our traditional market of broadcast DTH, DTT and single channel operators. You will hear more about deals in the future.”

      Spacecom has used the Amos 4’s success to bolster its personnel and invest in new technologies. “Spacecom is a stronger and larger company this year as compared to our position last year,” said Pollack. “Our offices have expanded twice in the past 18 months to accommodate all of our new top class employees. In addition, [the] success of the Amos 5 and Amos 4 programs have enabled us to create agreements with local partners in these new regions who are proving themselves adept at introducing the Amos brand to new markets.”

      While the Amos 4 has performed with confidence, an anomaly with one of Amos 5’s motors sparked concern. The company was not crestfallen for long, however, as a solution was found and implemented to protect the lifespan of the satellite. Rather than shortening the lifetime by 11 months, an alternative method was used to activate all of the satellites engines.

      “We all know that the business of operating satellites is not risk free,” said Pollack. “Up in orbit, on the launch pad, or even during testing, issues and challenges arise. Depending on the safeguard and redundancy systems that are in place and on the creativity of your team to find solutions, one must push forward to meet these challenges. The question is how one and one’s organization deals with issues that arise … Amos 5 in Africa is increasing its capacity usage on a monthly basis with a mix of mobile and data operators, broadcasters, corporate entities and national governments. We have learned that once again, nothing about any system can be taken for granted and that systems, people and organizations require proper planning.”

      With customers continuing to purchase capacity on the Amos 5, Spacecom has not slowed down on its path to becoming a global presence. To reach this goal, the company is targeting emerging markets and building its largest satellite to date. Amos 6, scheduled to launch in 2015, will be twice the size of the Amos 2 and Amos 3 combined. Spacecom plans to place the new satellite at four degrees west, co-locating it with the aforementioned two satellites. The Amos 6 will increase regional capacity and power, including spot-beams, to existing markets in Eastern and Central Europe as well as bringing service to Western Europe and Africa. Boasting 39 Ku-band segments and 24 Ka-band beams, the 5,500-kilogram satellite will make use of electronic propulsion capabilities to save on weight and cost.

      “If once, we were known in Central and Eastern Europe as the satellite operator of choice, we have now taken the Amos brand to Africa, and now to Asia and Russia,” said Pollack. “Our new orbital position at 65 degrees east for the Asian and Russian markets is proving to be a smart move. That being said, I am a firm believer in seeking prime orbital positions around the globe that fit our business strategy of working in high growth developing markets. We will always be on the lookout for other orbital positions and partnerships that strengthen our brand name and our capabilities around the globe.”

      Continuing with its global theme, Spacecom is working with banks in North America to finance the Amos 6. Loans totaling slightly more than $293 million have come primarily from U.S. and Canadian financial institutions. “The geographic connection for them is primarily due to the fact that elements of Amos 6 are being built in North America. MDA will be the satellite’s contractor for the Ku and multi-beam Ka pay-loads and Spacex is scheduled to launch the satellite,” explained Pollack. “The banks also recognize an element of local economic growth in their countries and this is a good sign for their investment.”

      Ultimately, Spacecom has figured out how to smartly overcome the problems it had with Amos 5, and use the records of its other satellites to keep investors and customers from losing confidence in the company. “As we move the company into future, and without true prophecy, we cannot know what is in the future, we are always analyzing what technologies to add, subtract or increase,” said Pollack. “These are never easy decisions. At Spacecom, we work hard to reach the optimal decisions, and so far, we are very happy with the results.”