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Big Four Satellite Operators Banking on Long-Term Strategies

By Kendall Russell | October 27, 2017

      Intelsat, Eutelsat, SES and Iridium each released their financial results for the third quarter this week. Check out a quick summary of how they fared below.


      For the three months ended Sept. 30, Intelsat reported total revenue of $538.8 million with a net loss of $30.4 million. The company’s network services and government divisions both saw a decrease in revenue during the quarter, although media revenue popped 9 percent.

      Intelsat also launched two new satellites during the quarter: Intelsat 35e, the fourth High Throughput Satellite (HTS) to join the company’s Epic constellation, and Intelsat 37e, which will replace Intelsat 901 over the Atlantic Ocean region and enter service in the first quarter of 2018.

      For the full year, the company now expects to come in at the bottom range of its previously announced guidance estimates at approximately $2.1 billion, pointing the finger at “current business trends.”


      SES reported a 2.5 percent increase in revenue over the previous quarter to 1.52 billion euros ($1.76 billion). While video revenue dipped 3.8 percent, the operator added 6 percent new total TV channels and 7 percent High Definition (HD) channels to its lineup — reflecting “attractive long-term contracts in prime neighborhoods,” according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and president Karim Michael Sabbagh.

      Sabbagh noted his confidence in SES’ medium-term growth potential, and highlighted a contract backlog of 7.5 billion euros ($8.6 billion) as evidence the company’s strategy of focusing on new differentiated managed services remains on track.


      Iridium boasted a 3 percent increase in revenue to $116.5 million compared to the same period last year, with more than a 30,000 increase in billable subscribers versus the previous quarter.

      According to CEO Matt Desch, the company’s commercial service revenue grew 4 percent due largely to demand for satellite Internet of Things (IOT) services and a seasonal rise in equipment sales.

      “Large storms in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico demonstrated the criticality of Iridium’s communications network as thousands of Iridium devices were deployed by first responders and relief organizations to provide aid in impacted areas,” said Desch. As a result of this momentum, Desch said Iridium is tightening its full year guidance to the high end of its 2017 outlook — Operational Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Amortization and Depreciation (OEBITDA) between $260 million and $265 million.


      Eutelsat reported revenues of 349 million euros ($404.2 million) for its first financial quarter, a 6.7 percent decrease from the same period last year. These revenues were in line with the company’s expectations, said CEO Rodolphe Belmer.

      According to Belmer, Eutelsat expects a revenue bump from mobility services once the Eutelsat 172B satellite comes into service in November. However, the company has been forced to further push back the expansion of its new Konnect Africa broadband business due to delays with Yahsat’s Al Yah 3 satellite.

      Last year, Eutelsat signed a deal with Yahsat to replace the capacity lost when Spacecom’s Amos 6 satellite exploded on the launchpad. Manufacturing delays on the part of Orbital ATK, as well as launch scheduling issues, have pushed potential revenues associated with Konnect Africa to 2019 from 2018.