"RSCC To Sell Transponder Capacity in Asian Market", Spacenews

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The Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) of Moscow is looking to lease express transponders on its growing fleet of Express spacecraft to customers in China and elsewhere in Asia, according to Alexander V. Fedotov, deputy director general of the state-run satellite operator.

RSCC's main purpose is to provide satellite communications to the Russian government, but the company is expected to bring in revenue from outside sources to cover for the cost of running and updating its system, he said.

The planned lunch of five new Express satellites between now and 2005 - part of an $800 million modernization effort that is only partially funded by the Russian government - will push RSCC's inventory from about 95 transponders to about 250, Fedotov said. RSCC's current fleet of 10 spacecraft includes three Express satellites.

RSCC estimates it will lease only about two-thirds of its planned new capacity to government and private customers in Russia, leaving several dozen transponders available to other customers within the company's coverage area, Fedotov said. The capacity RSCC will sell in Russia is not guaranteed, he said.

RSCC is especially interested in China, which is widely viewed as one of the world's most promising markets for satellite services because of its vast size and population. Despite that potential, China's market has developed slowly because of stringent government regulations that are only now beginning to soften.

"We need to sell the rest of transponders on the world market, and we are looking to provide services in China because it's a great market" Fedotov said in an interview in Hong Kong during the Telecom Asia conference, sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union the week of Dec. 2.

RSCC also is targeting Australia, India and Malaysia, Fedotov said. The satellite operator will distinguish itself by charging low prices, which it can sustain because its spacecraft cost less than the Western built satellites used by its competitors, he said.

The new satellites are being built by NPO PM of Krasnoyarsk, and will carry payloads supplied by Alcatel Space of Paris, and NEC Toshiba Space Systems of Tokyo.

RSCC is cooperating with the Moscow based Intersputnik satellite consortium in marketing Express services outside Russia. Intersputnik resells leased RSCC satellite capacity.

"We do not want to complete to push the prices down, which would happened if we complete against each other", said Intersputnik Sales Director Stefan Kollar.

Instead, RSCC and Intersputnik are dividing the market, with RSCC focusing on China and other parts of Asia and its partner concentrating on Africa and the Middle East.