SATELLITE kicked of the conference with “The Big Four” in the satellite industry. Our CEO, Romain Bausch discussed electric propulsion, O3b, and emerging markets among the drivers in our industry.
Hundreds of Satellite 2013 attendees gathered to hear from some of the industry’s big thinkers, including our president and CEO, who is convinced satellite is well positioned for a strong decade ahead.
Bausch pointed to the company’s financial strength and stability as a powerful foundation for strategic investments and innovations. He pointed to the partnership with O3b Networks, SES’ own SAT IP initiative, electric propulsion satellite advancements and a focus on hybrid satellite solutions as key reasons behind his positive forecast.
What about electric propulsion?
“Electric propulsion satellites will have a significant impact on costs associated with deploying satellite services,” Bausch told the standing room only crowd. “Cost efficiency has been increased three-fold since we launched our first satellite for European DTH services back in 1989,” he noted. “It’s a trend that will certainly continue with new technological developments such as electric propulsion.”
Firing up the Launch Pad
SES will be keeping the launch pad busy in 2013. “Between May and September, SES and O3b will have a combined six launches,” Bausch reported. “Of these six launches, we will use four different launch vehicles and four different satellite manufacturers. This helps to drive competition, reliability and security for our customers.”
Diversification is Key
Other satellite operators are beginning to follow SES’ lead when it comes to rocket and satellite maker diversification. “When I announced SES’ multiple deals with launch service providers a few years ago, some on this stage didn’t agree with our approach,” Bausch said. “I’m now happy to hear today that other satellite operators have followed our lead and have also established long term agreements with satellite launcher manufacturers.”
Bausch also sees High Throughput Satellites (HTS) as a compelling game changer, especially in the form of O3b Networks. The first four of O3b’s Medium Earth Orbit satellites are set to launch late in the spring – opening the door to brand new opportunities around the world. He sees a GEO/MEO hybrid solution soon capable of delivering first-of-its-kind services.
“I see O3b announcing new deals every week. This is a constellation that has not launched yet and still customers are signing up for capacity,” noted Bausch. “And there’s no doubt that once O3b is operational, we will see a huge increase in capacity demand.” Bausch anticipates governments will become big O3b customers once the new operator’s third set of four spacecraft initiate in-orbit service in 2014.
When asked what emerging markets are priorities for SES, Bausch said, “We are focused on all emerging markets. We are adding 22% of additional capacity across our fleet and at least 90% of that new bandwidth is going to emerging markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa,” Bausch noted.
Add in the eight new O3b satellites set for launch this year, “and we will add one-thousand transponders to an existing 1300 transponders across our fleet of 52 SES spacecraft,” Bausch said.
SES’ own in-home distribution innovation SAT IP converts satellite TV signals into IP streams, making wireless distribution to iPads, iPhones and other smart devices an important breakthrough.
When it comes to Ultra HD or 4K, Bausch sees it taking hold in the not too distant future. “I think it will begin to take off in the 2015 to 2016 timeframe, driven in part by the 2016 Olympics,” Bausch predicted. “And Ultra HD will rollout much faster than regular HD, thanks in large part to advanced processing capabilities and massive amounts of available content.”
In a fiercely competitive satellite industry, all four satellite operator CEOs agree that it will take a major cooperative effort to convince global regulators at the upcoming WRC-15 in Geneva that C-band is not the solution for cellular bandwidth demand. “We will need to pull together to showcase the difference C-band is delivering in regions around the world,” Bausch said. “This will be a challenge. We must convince regulators that C-band is not what mobile operators really need.”
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