SingTel – BT

New satellite opens new doors to SingTel

ST-2 will launch in 2011 and improve coverage in emerging markets

SINGAPORE Telecommunications is set to increase its footprint in the important emerging markets of North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia with the launch of a new and powerful satellite – the ST-2 – in 2011.

The ST-2, which goes up in space via an Arianespace launcher, will initially complement and later replace SingTel’s current satellite the ST-1 which has been in orbit since 1998. The contract for the launch was signed with Arianespace on Sunday.

SingTel’s executive VP for business, Bill Chang, told BT that the cost of building the ST-2 was approximately US$200 million.

The satellite will strengthen SingTel’s coverage in the emerging markets of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

There is a strong demand for Direct-to-Home (DTH) services and broadcast solutions, as well as IP-based (Internet Protocol) solutions and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony in this region, Mr Chang noted.

‘In fact, we have just signed a long-term multi-million dollar contract with Videocon, a leading Indian DTH service provider, to beam hundreds of TV channels to homes across India,’ Mr Chang noted.

Giving details of the launch in Paris, Arianespace’s chairman and CEO, Jean-Yves Le Gall, told BT that the SingTel joint venture with Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, ST-2 Satellite Ventures, has inked the launch deal with Arianespace.

The ST-2 will be launched by a giant Ariane 5 ECA rocket from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The huge 5.1 tonne satellite will be built by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan and will carry C and Ku band transponders. The ST-2 will have a 15 year lifetime in orbit.

SingTel’s Mr Chang noted that SingTel will own more than 60 per cent of ST-2’s capacity. He added that the average lifespan of a satellite is 11 to 13 years.

‘In the industry, there are some satellites that are even used for up to 18 years. After ST-2 has been launched, we will continue to use ST-1 for another three years for services such as maritime communications.’

Arianespace’s Mr Le Gall noted that the company is ‘proud to serve SingTel and Chunghwa with whom we have maintained warm relations since the launch of ST-1 in 1998.’

Elaborating, he told BT, that having SingTel as a customer enhances the company’s reputation in the region which provides around one third of the company’s revenues.

‘Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region for the company and with an endorsement from a customer like SingTel, we are confident that we will be able to attract more customers from the region,’ he said.

‘We do not sell launch vehicles, rather we sell launch services which includes all operations including insurance and financing. Even though we are not the cheapest solution available, customers find the total package attractive.’

Of the 10 launch deals signed by the company so far this year, three have been from Asia. Due to the lead time required to build the rockets, most of these launches will take place in the 2010-2011 timeframe.

Arianespace has won more than half of all commercial launch contracts open to competition worldwide in the past two years. This gives it a healthy order book from 27 customers.

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