Telesat: “Lightspeed likely delayed”
November 8, 2021
By Chris Forrester
Canadian satellite business Telesat, the world’s fourth-largest operator, revealed its Q3 results on November 5th. The 9-month revenues were down by 8 per cent to C$571 million (€396.4m). The 3-month numbers showed revenue of C$192 million, a fall of 5 per cent compared to the same period in 2020. But Telesat has a problem with its Lightspeed planned constellation.
“I am pleased with our results for the third quarter and first nine months of the year, particularly given the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic continued to restrain certain business activities,” commented Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s President and CEO. “Although revenues and Adjusted EBITDA, adjusted for foreign exchange rate changes, were modestly lower, we continued to generate strong cash flows and maintain an industry-leading Adjusted EBITDA margin, high-capacity utilisation and a substantial contractual backlog.”
That contracted backlog totalled C$2.2 billion and fleet utilisation was 80 per cent of its capacity.
Goldberg, in an analysts’ call, said that Telesat’s planned low Earth orbiting constellation of 298 craft, called Lightspeed, was likely to be delayed as a result of component shortages at the satellite builder, Thales Alenia Space.
Thales Alenia has a substantial $3 billion contract to build the Lightspeed constellation. But the delays could have a material impact for Telesat because of ITU rules.
The ITU requires that the constellation starts launching at a rate of at least 10 per cent by February 2023. That obligation now looks in considerable doubt. Telesat suggests that it would hope to obtain an extension to that date.