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Avanti promises revenue acceleration, new Ka-band over Europe by June

SES's Astra-5B satellite. Credit: SES video grab

PARIS—Satellite fleet operator Avanti Communications Group on May 16 promised investors an exceptional feat of revenue growth in the next few months as it seeks to meet its target for the fiscal year ending June 30.

London-based Avanti, which specializes in providing Ka-band broadband connectivity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said it still expects a 50 percent growth in “continuing business revenue on a constant-currency basis” for the current fiscal year.

The company did not spell out the difference between “continuing business revenue” and top-line revenue. In fiscal year 2015, Avanti reported revenue of $85.2 million. For the nine months ending March 31, revenue totaled $50.5 million.

“Guidance for approximately 50 percent growth in continuing business revenue on a constant currency basis in the full 2016 fiscal year is reaffirmed,” Avanti said in its May 16 earnings statement. “This guidance is underpinned by the strong and ongoing contract win momentum, with an element of revenue that we had expected to be recognized in the third quarter moving into Q4.”

Avanti operates three satellites in geostationary orbit and has a fourth, Hylas 4, scheduled for launch in early 2017. Hylas 4 will triple Avanti’s in-orbit capacity, with up to 28 gigahertz of throughput over Africa and Europe. The company said it has already booked orders for Hylas 4 and that “demand in West Africa appears strong across all sectors.”

In addition to Hylas 4, Avanti has leased 3 gigahertz of Ka-band capacity on a steerable beam on Luxembourg-based fleet operator SES’s Astra 5B satellite at 31.5 degrees east. For Avanti’s use, this steerable beam has been labeled Hylas 2B.

The lease, for an undisclosed sum, was part of a spectrum trade between Avanti and SES that was concluded in June 2015. At the time, Hylas 2B capacity was scheduled to enter service by early 2016. Avanti’s lease is for the remaining 13 years of service life of Astra 5B.

Avanti said in its most recent financial report that Hylas 2B would be in use starting sometime in June, and would be aimed at Central Europe. The company did not say why the capacity had not been activated earlier or specify the amount or schedule of its lease payments to SES.

Establishing a new commercial offer requires the installation of at least one gateway Earth station. Avanti has not announced an anchor customer for Hylas 2B, and the company made no forecast about near-term revenue potential from the satellite.

One obvious candidate for the capacity would be Eutelsat of Paris, whose existing consumer-broadband service is suffering from the saturation of its Ka-band satellite’s capacity in high-demand geographies including Britain and France.

Avanti reported revenue of $19.5 million for the three months ending March 31, up 12.7 percent from the three months ending Dec. 31. Avanti said that on a constant-current basis, the increase was 14.7 percent.

Avanti’s main service offering is high-throughput Ka-band satellite capacity, meaning multiple spot beams that allow for frequency reuse, whatever the selected frequency, and provide a multiplier effect on the amount of hertz generated by a given satellite.

One of the most-watched market developments in the commercial satellite telecommunications market today is these new high-throughput satellites’ effect on traditional satellite capacity.

Eutelsat on May 12 issued a profit and revenue warning that was based in part on evidence that competitors’ high-throughput satellites were taking future business away from Eutelsat’s conventional widebeam satellites for certain data applications.

“Market demand for high-throughput Ka-band satellite capacity across EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] is strong,” Avanti said. “Avanti continues to secure new high-quality customers, particularly in the large telco and government sectors, where sales cycles are long but contract value is high.

“This success is being driven by either migration from more expensive and lower-capability legacy systems, or the ability of high-quality Ka-band networks to grow the market for new satellite applications,” Avanti said.

Operators have said high-throughput satellites should be judged by a new set of key performance indicators, and that satellite fill rate is no longer a relevant metric. Avanti, for example, has said for the past year that its fleet is between 25 percent and 30 percent full – a level that conventional satellite operators would view as intolerable. For these businesses, a fill rate of 75 percent or higher is the goal.

Avanti said that as of March 31 it had $122.4 million in cash and an undrawn credit facility totaling $71 million and was seeking to bolster its liquidity. “Several different facilities have been offered and the most attractive is in documentation,” the company said.

Backlog at March 31 stood at $402 million, down 2 percent from Dec. 31. Avanti attributed the decline to currency-exchange effects and said: “This metric does not capture the expected growth from Avanti’s many frame contracts.”

 

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Avanti promises revenue acceleration, new Ka-band over Europe by June

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