Eu­tel­sat to boost in­ter­net ser­vices

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By OUYANG SHIJIA and MA SI

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.

mil­lion

amount of in­vest­ment planned by Eu­tel­sat Com­mu­ni­ca­tions SA in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion

$500

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.

Con­tact the writ­ers through masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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