Expansion & development

3 June 2008

Satelliteevolution. May/June 2008

Gascom was established in 1992 by the Gazprom group specifically to develop space systems and to create ground infrastructure for satellite communications. Now, it is a thriving, internationally recognised company just about to replenish its constellation. Helen Jameson speaks to Dmitry Sevastiyanov about Gascom’s upcoming plans for the Asian region and the company’s recent successes.

Question: Many thanks for your time. It seems that Gascom is extremely busy at the moment and that you have had many successes to report. This has been reflected in Gascom’s financial results. Can you tell us more about the results and what they mean to the company?

Dmitry Sevastiyanov: Last year was successful for Gascom. The company showed a stable, high rate of growth. In 2007, Gascom increased its total revenue from operator activity and telecommunications systems development by 48 percent and preliminary amounts to US$69.8 million.

What does it mean for our company? First of all it confirms the success of the strategy we have adopted for our company development. It also shows the high qualifications and abilities of all our team and the effort that they have put in to achieve the assigned targets.

For the next two years we do not expect such high growth in our operator activity as we have reached the saturation boundary in growth of our revenues. Our satellites are full and we do not have free capacity to keep up with such fast development.

For the next two years our expected revenue growth will be mainly thanks to our activities in the creation of telecommunications networks for our customers.

This situation will force us to intensify our activities on building two new Yamal-300 satellites. Hopefully their launch in 2009 will allow us to return to the high rate of growth we recently enjoyed.

Question: How are your plans progressing for the expansion of the Yamal constellation with two new satellites? Do you still expect to launch those next year, as planned? What services will the new satellites provide?

Dmitry Sevastiyanov: Gascom’s main focus will now be the manufacture of the two new Yamal-300 satellites. By the end of 2007, Gascom had paid approximately 50 percent of the total programme cost to the Russian Space Corporation, Energia (the prime contractor) and Sumitomo Corporation, the company integrating the payload components delivered from NEC Toshiba Space Systems in Japan, Tesat Spacecom in Germany, and Canada-based MDA.

The Yamal-300 satellite launch is scheduled for the mid-2009. Yamal-301 will be launched into the 90 degrees East orbital slot for collocation with the existing Yamals.

Its 8 x 72MHz C-band and 6 x 72MHz Ku-band transponders will be aimed at strengthening our position in the Russian market.

Yamal-302 to be launched into the 55 degrees East orbital slot will carry 12 x 72MHz Ku-band transponders. The satellite will have a fixed beam and two steerable beams aimed at extending our presence in the international market.

Thanks to their powerful payloads (EIRP of 47 dBW in C-band and 51-52 dBW in Kuband), both satellites will support additional applications such as DTH and propose new opportunities for the existing and potential clients of Gascom.

Question: What activities do you have planned in the Asian region over the coming months and how important is this regional market to Gascom?

Dmitry Sevastiyanov: Yamal satellites cover the main part of the Eastern hemisphere so we consider the Asian region to be the principal area of our strategic interests. Today, one third of our international traffic is dedicated to this region. Our Yamal-202 at 49 degrees East is a well known to our Asian customers and it’s an honour for us that among them are PCCW Global of Hong Kong, SingTel and ST Teleport of Singapore.

To extend our presence in this region in the foreseeable future we see two opportunities:

  • We consider the variant of pointing a steerable beam of our new Yamal-302 at 55 degrees East to the South East Asia region;
  • After the launch of the Yamal-300 satellites, we will be able to reconfigure the whole Yamal constellation to optimize it from the point of view of the satellite coverage, frequency bands and other technical parameters.

Hopefully it will allow us to release some C –band capacity on Yamal-202 at 49 degrees East that is so in demand in this region.

Question: Gazprom is Gascom’s mother company. Can you tell us more about the projects the two companies are collaborating on and what kind of relationship Gascom has with Gazprom?

Dmitry Sevastiyanov: Gazprom – our main shareholder (80 percent) and key corporate clients – use about 10 percent of the total Yamal satellite capacity. Satellite telecommunications via the Yamal constellation are used for practically all Gazprom activities including gas extraction, processing and transportation; finance resource and sales management; and also the company administration.

Moreover, Gascom is a rather successful commercial company and is not only a provider of telecommunications solutions for Gazprom’s technological needs, but a profitable object for long-term investments.

In recent years, Gascom has implemented several important projects for Gazprom:

  • A video conference system, connecting Gazprom headquarters with its 40 subsidiaries (terrestrial and satellite);
  • A network for data transfer for Burgaz Company. It consists of fixed and mobile stations placed near by the gas rigs and dedicated to online monitoring of the drilling process; and
  • A system for occasional use to transfer TV signals from locations that hold current importance for Gazprom.

Question: The World Telecommunications Association (WTA) has recently named Gascom as one of three finalists for the Teleport Awards for Excellence 2008. This is a great achievement. What do you feel are the unique points that have made Gascom a world leading teleport operator?

Dmitry Sevastiyanov: We are extremely proud of the recognition that WTA has awarded us. For Gascom, it means that we have been recognised as an important player within the global telecommunications industry. Moreover, this will make Gascom strive to provide even better services. We will definitely not become complacent! In April Gascom joined the WTA and will be involved in all its initiatives and activities.

Question: Tell us about Gascom’s plans for the future?

Dmitry Sevastiyanov: One of our chief objectives for forthcoming years is to intensify our activity as an operator and to return to the same pace of growth we have seen over the past few years.

In January 2008, the Gascom Board of Directors approved a ‘Perspective Plan’ of the company’s space business development till 2015 that stipulates the following:

  • Expansion and replenishment of Yamal satellites constellation (the company intends to place 8 new satellites into orbit and to increase its satellite capacity by 4 times); and
  • Development of the Company’s central ground infrastructure (particularly building a new teleport in Moscow Region).

In conclusion I would like to remind your readers that last year we celebrated our 15th anniversary. It was the ideal time to review our overall results and to make plans for the future. As you see, the results are very satisfactory and I would like to use this opportunity to sincerely thank all the players involved in the development of our company, directly and indirectly (and the team at Satellite Evolution too), because without their support we would not have the optimistic future we have today.

“As you see, the results are very satisfactory and I would like to use this opportunity to sincerely thank all the players involved in the development of our company, directly and indirectly (and the team at Satellite Evolution too), because without their support we would not have the optimistic future we have today.”

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