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Vietnam’s first satellite ready to brave challenges   2008-01-31 - Tuoi Tre

Two months prior to launching VINASAT-1 satellite, operators say they are prepared to wait as long as 12 years before the endeavor registers profit.

Two months prior to launching VINASAT-1 satellite, operators say they are prepared to wait as long as 12 years before the endeavor registers profit.

In the first year after its launch, only a small portion of total satellite capacity will be in demand, said Vice President Lam Quoc Cuong of the satellite’s business operator, Vietnam Postsand Telecommunications Group’s (VNPT) International Telecommunications Company.

Cuong estimates that about 90 percent of total satellite capacity might be leased and put into use four years post-launch.

Twelve years from now, the satellite project might see profit.

Critics say, considering the satellite will operate for only 15 years, three years of profit would not be enough to cover costs.

But Cuong disagrees.

“What we can calculate is purely monetary profit,” he said.

“This is our first satellite though, and there is another type of profit that can’t be calculated.”

The satellite, Cuong emphasized, would be as much an assertion of national power - serving political, security, and defense purposes - as a technological advance to improve the country’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Manufactured by US aerospace company Lockheed Martin, the 2.7 ton satellite carries 20 C- and Ku-band transponders for radio, television, and telephone transmission services covering Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, part of Myanmar, Japan, eastern China, Korea, India, and Australia.

Set to be launched into orbit by the French rocket Ariane 5 from a launching station in French Guyana, the structure cost a total investment of VND3 trillion (US$188 million).

A small number of local and international businesses have shown interest in renting the satellite’s services, Cuong said.

In response to the general concern that service prices would be set high to offset expensive production costs, Cuong says this would not happen.

He stresses that prices would be competitive, but high enough to cover costs and ensure profit in the last three years of the project.

For instance, Ku frequency services, which cover smaller areas and have high demand, will be charged higher prices.

“Taken as a whole, our price policy is flexible, depending on different types of services and customers,” Cuong said.

Deputy Minister of Information and Telecommunications Tran Duc Lai also confirmed that project stakeholders are willing to risk losses to give customers the most viable prices.

Lai suggests that monetary loss is one of many challenges awaiting the nation’s first satellite under-taking which its operators are ready to face.

“Other countries have also encountered great difficulties when they launched their first satellites,” he said.

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