WASHINGTON — APT Satellite reported a 14% revenue drop in 2019 as regional competitors with new satellites started taking market share.
The Hong Kong-based operator reported $1.06 billion Hong Kong dollars in 2019 revenue ($137 million at current exchange rates). Profits attributable to shareholders dropped 28.5% to 362.3 million Hong Kong dollars ($46.7 million).
APT Satellite said the competitive dynamics it warned of the past few years — roughly a dozen regional satellite operators compete for business across Southeast Asia — became more difficult after “two countries that have their own satellites commenced operation.”
APT Satellite did not name those countries in its 2019 financial report, released March 23. But Huang Baozhong, APT Satellite executive vice president, last year named Bangladesh and Indonesia as countries with increased competition.
“Like other satellite operators, we are facing a slowing down of demand simply because of the oversupply of our strategic market, including Indonesia and Bangladesh,” Baozhong said during a panel at World Satellite Business Week in Paris last September.
Bangabandhu-1, a communications satellite Thales Alenia Space built for Bangladesh’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, launched in May 2018 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. 2019 was the satellite’s first full year of operations.
Commercial Indonesian operator PSN launched a satellite, PSN-6 from Maxar Technologies, on a Falcon 9 in February 2019.
Both satellites added C- and Ku-band capacity over markets APT Satellite serves with its own five-satellite fleet.
APT Satellite said it is making “remarkable progress” growing in mainland China, a market closed off to many foreign satellite operators. Apstar-5C, the company’s first high-throughput satellite, is gaining customers across Southeast Asia, APT Satellite said.
Baozhong said APT Satellite was seeing growing connectivity demand from fishing vessels in the waters near China. The company is also expanding into the in-flight Wi-Fi market with Panasonic Avionics, which helped design the Apstar-6D satellite launching later this year.
APT Satellite said it added gateway stations in Indonesia, and has more on the way in Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia to support more high-throughput connectivity services. Baozhong said adding gateways not only helps facilitate high-throughput services locally, but creates opportunities to work with local service providers in each country to offer vertically integrated solutions.
APT Satellite said 2020 will be another year challenged by “oversupply and keen competition.”
“The global coronavirus outbreak will also bring challenges and difficulties to the market development,” the company said.