[Via Satellite 07-28-2015] Red 52, a growing Mexico-based satellite communications company, anticipates Latin America will remain a hotbed for satcom demand in the years to come. The company has grown year over year for the past four years, with 2015 being one of the most successful to date, according to Red 52 Director General Sergio Murillo.
“We are seeing more and more major government-funded projects being rolled out throughout the region. There is a lot of activity in telemedicine, education projects, border security, and basic connectivity applications for remote towns and villages. Another growth area that we are seeing a lot is in corporate networks, and a lot of content delivery as well,” Murillo told Via Satellite.
Several Latin American governments have stepped up their efforts to bridge the digital divide within their borders. For populations distanced from major terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure, satellite has grown to a favored solution. Brazil is ramping up rural connectivity with Via Direta Telecom, a subsidiary of TV and radio broadcast group Rede Tiradentes de Telecomunicações, selecting iDirect’s Evolution platform last month to further the nation’s largest e-learning program. Agencia Boliviana Espacial (ABE), the Bolivian space agency, this year certified satellite modems from Newtec and placed an order with Gilat for Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), a SkyEdge 2-c hub, and other services to provide domestic satellite services through its Tupac Katari satellite. Among government-driven connectivity projects in Latin America, the Mexico Conectado program is among the most ambitious, Euroconsult Senior Consultant Nathan de Ruiter told Via Satellite.
“In the [Latin American] telecom segment, capacity growth is primarily supported by the increasing availability of low-cost [High Throughput Satellite] HTS capacity, which should especially drive growth in the consumer broadband, cellular backhaul, and rural connectivity segments. Cellular backhaul and trunking currently has a stronger foothold in Brazil, while Mexico is the leader in rural connectivity projects,” said de Ruiter.
Red 52 was involved in the relief effort following hurricane Odile, which struck the Cabo San Lucas and La Paz in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Sept. 14, 2014. The company provided trucks, hardware, technicians, and emergency communications. The pro-bono services helped restore communications to a grocery store chain providing food and water, and to the electric commission to help restore power.
Murillo also highlighted reforms in Mexico’s energy policy as a driver for increased satcom demand.
“Here in Mexico there are major reforms in the energy sector that have created pretty much a gold rush for a lot of foreign oil companies. It’s driving a lot of opportunities for us and for everybody — not just the oil companies, but all of their suppliers and support partners,” he said.
Red 52’s core markets are the Andean region, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. The company has also completed some projects in Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay. One of the most recent was a new teleport built just outside of Mexico City. Murillo said Red 52 is also looking to expand beyond Latin America and is beginning to do so through an opportunity in Europe. A U.S. telecom operator requested the company to assist with a project based on its experience with field services, Murillo said. Red 52 is a significant player in field services operations in Latin America and has ongoing investments, mostly through the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), in training and certifications for field technicians, engineers, and Satellite Newsgathering (SNG) vehicle operators. Murillo said working with local partners is part of the company’s strategy to reach new areas.
“We just completed a project in Scotland, and at the moment we are working some projects in Africa and the Middle East, so we are looking to expand,” he said. “There are quite a few opportunities opening up in Africa right now.”
In addition to new markets, Red 52 is investing in infrastructure to add capacity for current customers. Murillo declined to specify what form this will take in the future, but assured the company would be very active going forward.
“We are investing a lot in Research and Development (R&D). We’ve come across some things that promise to yield interesting new applications for traditional services,” he said. “I can’t give away the secret sauce, but what I can say is you’re going to be hearing a lot more from Red 52 in the very near future.”