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Telesat insists all well with Lightspeed

March 30, 2023

Telesat’s president/CEO Dan Goldberg, in a March 29th investor call, insisted that the Canadian satellite operator was still spending cash on planning and development of its Lightspeed mega-constellation of 200 satellites. Goldberg added that the business demand for Lightspeed was a strong as ever.

Goldberg told analysts that Telesat was still confident of the project but that it was taking longer than expected. Last year, Telesat spent C$279.3 million on Lightspeed last year. He also said that Thales-Alenia Space, the probable manufacturing contractor for the constellation was holding its price steady (it had upped its price back in 2020). He added that launch costs for the planned 200 satellites were also holding steady.

As to the rest of its day-to-day business, Goldberg reported that its overall revenues last year were C$759 million and a very acceptable 89 per cent fill rate on its 14-satellite fleet.

But Telesat, like its competitors, was suffering a downturn in its DTH business, down 9.2 per cent last year (from C$390.8 million in 2021 to C$358.7 million last year).

Telesat had considered reducing its geostationary fleet size as satellites came to their natural end of life and switching to Lightspeed for subsequent connectivity demands. But with the now inevitable delays for the deployment of Lightspeed (originally planned for 2026) Telesat was now looking at life extension possibilities for some of its satellites.

However, there is now the question of ITU permissions for the frequencies allocated to Lightspeed expiring.

Telesat, in its financials, stated: “A substantial amount of Telesat Corp’s goodwill and intangible asset value is supported by the planned Telesat Lightspeed constellation. If it were determined that the Telesat Lightspeed constellation program was unlikely to proceed, it is likely that Telesat Corporation’s goodwill and intangible assets would be deemed to be impaired.”

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