Satellite CEOs: “2021 better than expected”

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This past year has been full of continued Covid problems and a near-absence of lucrative cruise ship passengers and crews as well as much-curtailed airline traffic which combined to severely limit revenues for In Flight business communications and cruise holiday-makers (and their families). However, the consensus from satellite industry executives is that while this past year could have been better, it also could have been much worse.

An executive panel at last week’s Euroconsult World Satellite Business Week agreed that the year performed better than expected. For example, Pradman Kaul, CEO at EchoStar-backed Hughes Network System spoke for many of his colleagues when he said that 2021 still generated strong demand for satellite capacity. He added that there was “significant” growth in Hughes’ consumer broadband businesses in Central and South America, although North America was flat because existing capacity was full.

Kaul told delegates that Hughes had some 1.2 million subs on its Jupiter 1 and Jupiter 2 satellites. Once Jupiter 3 is launched (in late 2022) he expected North America to resume growth. He added that Brazil alone was responsible for almost 300,000 satellite-based subscribers.

Steve Collar, CEO at SES, expressed considerable optimism for 2022 and backed by a portfolio of new satellite launches not least its additional O3b mPower craft. Collar also said that video demand remained a strong revenue driver in 2021 and was closely tied to the overall health of the SES broadcasting clients.

“We are seeing some good momentum on the DTH side,” commented Collar.

However, Collar punctuated his comments by saying that while his broadcasting clients were generating record revenues he would have to be cautious, and while he wouldn’t describe the video industry as in the best of health, it is not far away from that.


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