By Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.
Space Systems Loral (SSL) has been selected to provide a communications satellite to PT Telkom Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. According to a December 30, 2015, announcement, SSL will build the TELKOM-4, which will be used for fixed satellite services in Indonesia, India, and Southeast Asia.
Few details were provided regarding contract terms or satellite specifications. SSL did indicate that the satellite will be based on the company’s 1300 platform and will have a 15-year lifespan. A Jakarta Globe report from July 7 stated that PT Telkom intends to spend about $200 million on the satellite, with a planned launch in 2018. The TELKOM-4 will have 60 transponders, with 36 reserved for domestic use. PT Telkom evaluated bids from six companies located in the United States, Russia, and Europe.
Satellite plays an important role in Indonesia’s communications infrastructure, since the nation is made up of an archipelago of islands. Satellite systems are an efficient way to connect islands as well as to bridge Indonesia’s communications infrastructure with global networks. As such, Indonesia has been a strong source of demand for satellites in recent years. In fact, TELKOM-4 is the third satellite order from an Indonesian operator in the past two years. In April 2014, BRI, an Indonesian bank, ordered a $250 million satellite, and in November 2014, Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN) ordered the PSN-6 satellite. Indonesian teleport operator PT Sarana Mukti Adijaya is expected to order a new satellite sometime in 2016.
So far, SSL has succeeded in capturing this expanding market, winning the three most recent satellite orders. The company’s 1300 satellite platform is a success in the commercial communications market. Its large size and power output allow it to be used for a number of applications, including video broadcasting, data networks, and broadband Internet.
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ ownership of SSL also benefits sales of the 1300 satellite bus. As MDA is based in Canada and SSL is based in the U.S., SSL has access to the export credit agencies of both countries. It is unclear if the PT Telkom contract received export credit help; however, last year this access proved instrumental in securing a contract to build a satellite for Azerbaijan, with SSL benefiting over American competitors while the U.S. Export-Import Bank was closed.