SES Reports Solid Q3 Growth

SES reported that third quarter year-to-date it delivered solid growth. SES said, “The financial results for the first nine months of 2012 are in line with our expectations. Despite the impact of the end of analog TV broadcasting in Germany at the end of April, strong underlying growth has resulted in revenue growth of 1.6 percent, at constant FX. Excluding the German analog impact, revenue growth was 7.5 percent.”

SES also reported that it successfully launched three spacecraft: SES-4, SES-5 and ASTRA-2F. Two of these have already entered service. ASTRA-2F is still undergoing in-orbit testing. You may recall that Eutelsat has challenged SES on the use of additional frequency bands at the 28.2/28.5 degrees east longitude neighborhood. SES said it “strongly disagrees with Eutelsat's position and will vigorously defend its right to use these frequencies from Oct. 4, 2013.” (See my article SES/Eutelsat Orbital Slot Battle Escalates for background on this dispute.)

SES Group transponder utilization at the end of September was 72.6 percent, representing 1,045 of the 1,440 transponders commercially available. SES said the reduction in utilization rate compared to previous quarters is “largely related to the onset of new capacity mainly from QuetzSat-1, the YahLive payload on YahSat-1A, SES-4, SES-5 and NSS-7 and unfavorably impacted by the analog switch-off in Germany and the end of cable contracts at 23.5°E.”

In North America, revenues increased 4.7 percent compared to the prior year period on a constant foreign exchange basis. SES said the increase was related to services using the SES-3 Ka-band payload and Government contracts on third-party capacity. Available satellite capacity was reduced by 27 transponders “due to satellite movements and payload adjustments. Utilized capacity reduced by 10 transponders compared to the prior year period as new business partially offset the reduction of capacity on the AMC-15 and AMC-16 spacecraft, resulting in a utilization rate of 76.5 percent.” SES said that pricing in North America, as in Europe, remained stable.

In the Satellite Health section of the report, SES said it operated a number of spacecraft which are susceptible to solar array circuit failures, but noted that during the quarter ending Sept. 30, commercial availability of these spacecraft was not affected.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.