Intelsat has held onto its spot as the world’s top fixed satellite service operator, a table based on revenues and size of fleet. However, the annual ‘Space News’ survey says that this position although held for many years by Intelsat is not likely to be maintained. The Number 2 position is held by Luxembourg-based SES, and the trade magazine says in all likelihood SES will take the top spot this time next year aided by its faster revenue growth prospects.
Intelsat is said to be in a holding pattern waiting for two events that will give it more freedom of movement. First is to reduce its debt load, a goal made easier by the current US economic climate and the still-low interest rates that allow Intelsat to exchange high-cost debt for lower-cost debt. Following on from its debt-reduction aims, Intelsat also has in its sights the launch next year of the first of its massive new ‘EPIC’ fleet of satellites.
As mentioned above, SES is No. 2, whilst rival Eutelsat is No. 3. Telesat of Canada is No. 4, while Japan’s SkyPerfect-JSAT is No. 5. Arabsat has the No. 6 position, StarOne of Brazil is No. 7, and SingTel’s Optus is No. 8. Madrid-based Hispast is No. 9, and Thaicom is No. 10.
SES, and its 55-satellite fleet, is expanding rapidly and new CEO Karim Michel Sabbagh is continuing the firm’s thrust into new markets, especially Latin America. Eutelsat’s No. 3 position is aided by its strong commercial relationships with fellow-satellite players Nilesat and Russia’s Satellite Communications and its recent purchase of Satmex.