Beijing Star Time shows omnidirectional ambition
March 30, 2017
PARIS — A Chinese company that has made a $208-million commitment to build a Ka-band HTS satellite with the help of fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand says it intends to launch two satellites and perhaps a LEO constellation as well as part of China’s Belt & Road initiative.
Beijing Star Time Telecommunications Technology Co. Ltd. (BST) says it is the unnamed company that has purchased the capacity on a satellite formally owned by Thaicom’s International Satellite Co. Ltd., based in Mauritius, and scheduled for launch in late 2019.
The satellite is being built and launched through China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC), an entity that pops up often in Chinese satellite or launch-service deals intended for export markets.
CGWIC is one of BST’s owners, alongside China Mobile Aspire Information Technology Co. Ltd. and Beijing Prosperity Achievement Investment Management Co. Ltd., according to BST.
BST says it is made overtures to ViaSat Inc., Hughes Network Systems and VT iDirect on various aspects of the satellite’s ground network, although it is unclear whether all these companies, who compete in the user-terminal market, will work together on the same project.
BST also says it is working on partnerships with fleet operators Measat of Malaysia and SES of Luxembourg, although it remains unclear what the scope of an eventual partnership might be.
As if that were not enough, the company says it is planning a low-orbit constellation of internet delivery satellites as well. It has not announced contractual arrangements for the LEO system.
Thaicom also did not disclose the identity of the customer who in October committed $208 million to have Thaicom order a Ka-band HTS satellite from China Great Wall Industry Corp.
The satellite, with 37 GHz of throughput that Thaicom has said would produce 53 Gbps, is scheduled for launch aboard China’s Long March rocket in late 2019.
Thaicom said the mystery customer “leases all the capacity, with advance service fees which will serve as funding of the construction of the satellite. The project is expected to contribute incremental revenue for the company.”
BST did not disclose details of its proposed second satellite other than to suggest that its would double the capacity of the Thaicom-coordinated satellite. Thaicom has not named the spacecraft but BST calls the system Startime, with the satellites called Startime-1 and -2.
Here is how BST describes the project:
“The [Belt and Road Chinese regional development project] high-throughput broadband (Ka) satellite network is built under the cooperation of BST together with Thaicom Public Company Limited (Thaicom), Measat Malaysia and other enterprises. It will be completed its (Ka) network coverage in 2019 in Southeast Asia, Indochina Peninsula and China Mainland, two satellites’ total capacity are up to 120Gbps.
“BST has reached technical cooperation intention with international satellite industry’s giants such as ViaSat, Hughes and SES. BST will provide users with the best quality broadband internet experience. At present, BST had completed its international layout in Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Korea, the United States of America, Hong Kong and other countries and areas.”
Peter B. de Selding