Eutelsat to boost internet services
French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications SA plans to launch a satellite next year to serve the Asia-Pacific region, as demand for in-flight internet connectivity grows rapidly.
The satellite, Eutelsat 172B, will be put into service in September, Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat, said on Wednesday.
He said the satellite will be built by Airbus Group SE, and is part of the $500 million investment it has made in the Asia-Pacific in recent years.
“Satellites are a vital tool for building inclusive digital economies. They provide coverage and connectivity that leaves no one out. They can also deliver television and internet services more efficiently,” Belmer said.
amount of investment planned by Eutelsat Communications SA in the Asia-Pacific region
Eutelsat sees China as a big potential market for in-flight connectivity service, as the nation is the second-largest aviation market in the world and is expected to become the largest in the 2030s.
“I hope in the future our Beijing office will catch up with the Washington DC office in terms of revenue,” Belmer added.
The Paris-based company has deployed two satellites to serve the Asia-Pacific, which offer satellite broadcasting, data and other services.
Ninety percent of Chinese passengers surveyed said the in-flight Wi-Fi availability would influence their choice of airlines, according to a report by Inmarsat, a London-based provider of global satellite communication services.
Xiang Ligang, a telecommunications expert and CEO of the telecom industry website cctime.com, said that despite the growing demand for in-flight Wi-Fi services, there is no feasible profit model in China at the moment.
“Chinese consumers are accustomed to free Wi-Fi services. It will not be easy to ask them to pay for onboard connectivity,” Xiang said.
Zhu Wenqian contributed to this story.
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