Satellite dispute helps Thaicom
May 10, 2022
Thaicom’s 30-year concession to operate the nation’s satellites ended last September. The Thai government took two satellites – half the fleet – back on September 10th 2021. The consequences are now clear.
The Thai Ministry for Digital Economy and Society (MDE) had hoped to find someone prepared to stump up the government’s fees for using the two satellites (Thaicom 4 and Thaicom 6). That strategy has – to date – failed.
On the positive side of the coin for Thaicom, its depreciation costs were cut and it no longer needed to pay commissions and concession fees to the government, and the loss of the two craft helped trim those charges by almost 46 percent in the quarter-year to March 31st. Thaicom continues to own and operate Thaicom 7 (at 120 degrees East) and Thaicom 8 (78.5 degrees East).
Thaicom reported in a filing to the Thai stock exchange that its satellites and related services revenue were 690 million baht (€18.8m) for Q1, and thus a fall of 12.2 per cent from the same period a year ago. Net profit for Thaicom was 51 million baht, down 54.6 per cent from a year ago.
Thaicom’s newly appointed chief executive (Patompob Suwansiri) said that the company is focusing on boosting revenues for Thaicom 7 and 8 in the Indian, Indonesian and Filipino markets. It was also considering taking a new orbital slot outside of Thailand.
The company also had Thaicom 9, a broadband satellite, in development and had asked permission from the government to operate it from 119.5 degrees East (in effect alongside Thaicom 7). That plan was abandoned some time ago.
Thaicom in March announced the signing of a partnership agreement with Globalstar, a global LEO satellite operator and provider of satellite IoT solutions and mobile satellite services, to collaborate on the establishment and operation of Globalstar’s low-earth orbit satellite (LEO) ground facilities in Thailand and regional commercial service deployment, with a focus on personnel safety and management solutions for Thailand’s Tourism and Maritime industry.
According to the agreement, Thaicom and Globalstar will collaborate to develop and operate ground station facilities in Thailand at Thaicom’s Teleport Center, located in Pathumthani Province, for Globalstar’s LEO satellite constellation. The infrastructure and services of the ground station will enable the deployment of commercial LEO satellite services by Globalstar in the region.