Satellite provider Thaicom explores new fields

Satellite provider Thaicom explores new fields

SET-listed Thaicom Plc, the country's sole satellite service provider, is striving to tap into advanced technologies, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), for new revenue streams as the company faces falling revenue from satellite business.

"Transforming into the new business will make us diversify revenue sources that can offset the decline in satellite revenue," said Anant Kaewruamvongs, chief executive of Thaicom.

He blamed technology disruption for the fall-off in TV viewers, thus undermining the satellite business.

To tap into new businesses, the company is undergoing a restructuring, including renaming its subsidiary DTV, a TV set-top box supplier, to Thai Advanced Innovation (Thai AI).

Thaicom will capitalise on its high-accuracy satellite technology from space, integrating it with air and ground networks, coupled with big data analytics and AI, to provide integrated digital solution services that can benefit the private sector, farmers and government.

According to Mr Anant, terrestrial networks alone cannot keep up with the dramatic growth of data traffic.

Space and airborne communication infrastructure are suited for broader and faster big-data collection and integrated into smart connected solutions, he said.

By the end of this year, Thaicom plans to launch drone services for agriculture, including spraying fertiliser and pesticides.

The move is expected to cut farming costs by 30% compared with manual practices.

Moreover, Thaicom aims to provide UAVs for surveyors and national security officers.

The company further plans to offer electric motorbikes under the sharing economy model to provide transport services at universities.

Thaicom's existing Nava platform, which provides marine high-speed internet, will make use of roaming services with Russian national satellites to expand the service to ferries and fishing boats spanning Japan, Indonesia and Singapore.

Mr Anant said an Asian consortium for internet broadband satellite service is expected to be launched in the first half of next year. This next generation of satellite technology can capitalise on software that adjusts the satellite beam for better service coverage, letting users exploit international orbits without having to seek state approval.

"Satellite technology will gear up more internet broadband capacity that can serve massive data consumption growth with lower cost," Mr Anant said.

By 2020, at least 5% of the company's total revenue is expected to come from non-satellite services, he said.

At present, over 80% of the firm's revenue is from satellite services and the rest comes from value-added services such as content delivery network.

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