Gazprom Space Systems: New Offerings for the International Market

In a two-month span at the end of 2012, Russian satellite operator Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) launched two new satellites, Yamal 300K and Yamal 402. With these two new additions to their fleet, GSS has effectively increased by 2.5 times its current total satellite transponder capacity.

In a two-month span at the end of 2012, Russian satellite operator Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) launched two new satellites, Yamal 300K and Yamal 402. With these two new additions to their fleet, GSS has effectively increased by 2.5 times its current total satellite transponder capacity. GSS now has a fleet of four satellites, of which one-third of the capacity is ear­marked for the international market. To tell us more about their new satellites and future plans, Satellite Markets and Research Editor-in-Chief Virgil Labrador spoke with GSS’ Deputy Director General Igor Kot. Excerpts of the interview:

What impact will the launch of your new satellites hare on your ability’ to expand into new markets?

The new Yamal-402 satellite manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and launched into the orbit in December last year has five beams, three of them covering territories beyond Russia.

This is the most powerful satellite in GSS' orbital fleet. The satellite is placed at the 55 E orbital position and 40% of its capacity allocated in the beams covering the territories out­side Russia. This satellite enables GSS to enter new markets.

Four 54 MHz transponders will be operated in the European beam covering Eastern and Central Europe. Middle East and Northern Africa.
Eight 54 MHz transponders will be operated in the wide Southern beam covering the territory of sub-Saharan Africa.

The steerable beam can be pointed over Africa, thus, increas­ing the African GSS capacity' by 3 transponders per 72 MHz each or over other regions, for example, over South-East Asia, expanding the satellite coverage zone.

How are you approaching the new emerging markets that your new satellites are now covering?

For a new player it is not so easy to enter the African market. The competition is very intense: global and regional satellite operators have strong presence in this market. To provide services only for the region of sub-Saharan Africa two dozen satellites with the beams covering this region were launched or relocated from other positions in the last two-three years. According to our estimates the capacity offers growth amounting to more than 200 transponders during this period. Moreover, now submarine fiber cable lines are being rapidly deployed in the continent.

In spite of this situation. GSS is very optimistic about its prospects in the African market. There is still a niche to be filled for new satellite capacity of high quality. Remote African regions are still in desperate need of satellite communications because of weak development of the access networks.

Satellite operators are also optimistic of the intentions of the African countries to develop Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

Many organizations. mining, oil and gas. transportation logistics corporations are expanding their business in Africa. Most of our long-standing international clients of Yamal-202 satellite (among them well-known service providers and teleports) are more or less aimed to run business with the African countries. Starting from the beginning of Yamal-402 commercial operation in February this year our international client base has expanded almost by one-third.

Currently Yamal-402 is internationally marketed mainly as a satellite for telecommunications service providers (point-to- point. VSAT services. Internet access, content contribution, etc.). But we expect the appearance of TV packages, distributed for DTT, or DTH platforms on this satellite. The power parameters of Yamal-402 allows us to provide these services at very high quality.

We believe that we have strong potential to become successful in this market: a state-of-the-art satellite, very attractive coverage over Central. Eastern and South Africa, the possibility of connection with Europe. We are trying to meet the international standards of service and interaction with clients. Now our main task is to become well- known in the new markets we are serving. Thus we invite all compa­nies to test our satellite capacity in order to make a reasonable assessment of our capabilities free of prejudices. Also we would like to invite all players to visit our stand at IBC show in Amsterdam, 13- 17 September and in Capetown at AfiicaCom in November 2013.

How about Yamal-300K, what new offerings are you providing on this satellite?

Yamal-300K is another new satellite we launched last year. Now it may not be immediately apparent that this satellite is related to the international market. Indeed the satellite is located at the 90 E orbital position: almost all capacity is in Russian beams. But the exception is the steerable beam with three transponders of 72 MHz each by means of which we are exploring the Australian market at the moment.

But the situation will be changed soon after the powerful Yamal-401 satellite launch m the 90 E orbital position in the first half of 2014. This satellite is planned to replace Yamal-202 (in operation from 2003) and moreover to accommodate the Russian clients to be moved from Yamal-300K. After the relocation of Yamal-300K to more eastern position it will cover the Fai East, Northern China, Korea. Japan, the Northern part of the Pacific Ocean (regions of heavy maritime traffic) and reach US West Coast. The steerable beam can be pointed to Australia or another region of South-East Asia.

This new satellite will not be visible from our Telecoimnunication Center in Schelkovo in the Moscow region. So we are building a new TT&C and teleport facilities near Kha­barovsk city.

What other satellites are you planning to launch ?

The Yamal-202 satellite operating at the 49 E orbital position since 2003 and covering all Europe, the Middle East, South and South-East Asia, is in demand and fully loaded. At the end of 2012 this particular satellite generated the main share of GSS’ revenues on the international market. In 2016 the replacement of this satellite will be required, and we are preparing a successor.

The more powerful Yamal-601 satellite, which will the current client base in C-band and allow developing the Russian GSS business in Ku- and Ka-band (this band is dedicated to provide the consumer market in Russia with broadband services) will replace Yamal-202.

According to the results of the tender held by Gazprom in April-July 2013 Thales Alenia  Space will manufacture the satellite. Thales Alenia  Space’s offer was the best in price and manufacturing terms/ Moreover GSS and Thales Alenia  Space have a positive experience of cooperation in the past with the production of the Yamal-402 satellite. The satellite will be made based on Spacebus 4000 C4 platform.

International Launch Service will provide the launch services. The satellite will be launched by Proton-M with Briz-M upper stage.

Satellite Executive Briefing
September 2013