[Via Satellite 02-17-2015] Telenor Satellite Broadcasting is in the early stages of an entrance into the markets of aviation and government connectivity. Morten Tengs, CEO of Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, told Via Satellite that the company is having a number of discussions around ways to capitalize on these new verticals.
“Aviation is one of the markets we think and believe will be an interesting market going forward. We are discussing with our partners and with our service distributors around aviation. It is certainly a market we are looking into,” he said.
Neither aviation nor government is the primary focus of Thor 7, Telenor’s newest satellite, which Space Systems/Loral (SSL) recently completed manufacturing. The satellite instead emphasizes maritime connectivity, along with broadcast and television services. Nevertheless, Tengs said aviation and government are segments Telenor is looking into.
With In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) becoming increasingly popular, a number of satellite and terrestrial operators have laid out and acted on plans for services. ViaSat launched its IFC service in December 2013, and has risen to become one of the top contenders in North America. Inmarsat, a leading operator in the maritime space, has seen considerable growth in IFC, and is planning to ramp up capacity over Europe through an Air to Ground (ATG) network supplemented by an S-band satellite in partnership with Hellas Sat — each company will own half the satellite to serve different markets. Also, SmartSky last year announced partnerships to build an ATG network across the United States, and AT&T planned a U.S. ATG network for some time before deciding to focus on other markets. Overall, satellite operators have been striking up new partnerships, as well as designing footprints, specifically for IFC.
The government sector, on the other hand, has been less of an enthusiastic focus for many operators, but still one that has potential. Telenor is considering a northern entrance in the long term.
“We are working with partners and other stakeholders to see if it is possible to put together a business plan for the arctic area. That’s probably where we will, at some point, discuss with some state government agency,” said Tengs.
While it is not unfeasible for Thor 7 to contribute to the aviation market, Tengs said the company does not have plans to discuss government services with this satellite. Slated for an April 15 launch with Arianespace aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, Thor 7 is Telenor’s first High Throughput Satellite (HTS). The operator will be able to offer a different product portfolio, along with more managed bandwidth services using iDirect’s Velocity platform. Tengs expects to be able to meet demand for higher broadband speeds for the entire spectrum of maritime customers.
“The average bandwidth consumption today is very low, and it just can’t continue, so there is an increasing need for much higher bandwidth. With new high throughput satellites, prices are going down. We expect and are absolutely sure that the bandwidth per vessel or per customer will increase dramatically,” he said.
Thor 7 carries 25 Ka-band spot beams, 11 Ku-band transponders and one steerable Ka-band beam. The satellite’s Ku-band payload will serve as restoration for Thor 5 and 6 satellites, while also providing room for expansion over Central and Eastern Europe. The Ka-band HTS payload will cover the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Red Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Thor 7will be located at 1 degree west.