AsiaSat had intended to place an order for their first dedicated high throughput satellite two years back. But now they feel it was good that they didn’t do it.CEO Roger Tong said that he was glad that the company didn’t venture into the AsiaSat-10 program. If they’d done so, they would have had a very expensive satellite, said Tong at the World Satellite Business Week conference.
The company has high throughput ka-band capacity on two of its satellites – AsiaSat-8 and AsiaSat-9. AsiaSat had earlier planned to have a medium-sized high throughput satellite covering China. Broadband communication is the primary reason why high throughput satellites are used. They rarely find application in traditional broadcast services.
Tong said that since they were first assessing the market for a high throughput satellite, the costs for capacity on the satellite have gone down. At the time of AsiaSat-10, the cost for one-gigabit capacity was $3.5 million, which now stands at less than $2 million per gigabit.
This rapid growth in high throughput satellites is a significant reason why operators have not invested in new spacecraft. The forecast is that a satellite which may be designed for a 15-year mission might be obsolete soon after launch, or maybe even before that.
Tom Choice, Former CEO of ABS said he was grateful that a lapse in the import-export system of the United States forced them to cancel the launch of its ABS-8 satellite in 2015. PSN chief commented that if given a chance, he would have the PSN’s most recent satellite with a capacity around 10 times higher.
Tong said that manufacturers have rolled out very cheap digital, high throughput satellites, and they are investing heavily in next-generation technologies for even higher throughput. AsiaSat operates five satellites and continues to study its options for future satellites.
Tong said that the company would not stop investing. They need to close the business case but don’t have a timeline yet. The chief said he wasn’t sure how low the price could get per gigabit of capacity.