Sat, 06 Aug 1994

Asian mobile satellite system set

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian, Singaporean and U.S. companies yesterday agreed to start a feasibility study on the launching of the world's second mobile geo-stationary satellite telecommunication system which will cover major parts of Asia.

Under the agreement signed here by the president of PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN) of Indonesia, Adi Rahman Adiwoso, the chief executive of the Singapore Technologies Ventures, Ho Ching, the president of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Wong Hung Kim, and the president of Hughes Communications Inc. Kevin N. McGrath, the four companies will complete the study of the US$900 million project by the end of September.

Adiwoso said that the project, named Asian Mobile Satellite System, will allow any person with a handheld device to directly communicate with another person carrying a similar device within the satellite coverage and, through ground station gateways and normal public switch telephone networks, to any person with a cellular or normal fixed telephone anywhere in the world.

The project will cover an area from India in the west to Indochina in the east and from China in the north to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the south, he said.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

McGrath said that the first of such a project in the world will be officially introduced next year in the United States. The project, called American Mobile Satellite System, is developed jointly by Hughes, McCall, MTell of the United States and Singapore Telecommunications.


Setyanto P. Santosa, president of PT Telkom, one of PSN's shareholders, said that the Asian project will be simpler and cheaper than telecommunication projects using the international maritime satellites (Inmarsat) or iridium technology. An iridium project in Taiwan, for example, will spend about $4 billion to create a telephone network based on 66 satellites that will be sent into orbit by 1998.

According to Adiwoso, the costs of the Asian geo-stationary satellite system will be shared among the members in the partnership.

"The four parties signing the agreement will share the costs of the project but we hope other parties from other countries within the Asian region will participate in the project," he said.

Adiwoso said the project, which has been approved by the government, will use four satellites to be called Garuda.

The planned satellites, which will be able to serve about one million subscribers, will be placed at 80.5, 118, 123.5 or 135 degrees in geo-stationary orbit.

He also said that a tender for the satellite construction will be announced in December, while the operation of the system is expected to start in 1998.

Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Joop Ave, who witnessed the signing of the agreement together with Singapore Minister of Communication and Environment Mah Bow Tan, said that the partnership shows a most significant advance for telecommunications in the Asian region.

PSN, operating in satellite recycling and management, is 30 percent owned by the state-owned domestic telecommunications company PT Telkom and 20 percent by PT Electrindo Nusantara, a subsidiary of the diversified Bimantara Group owned by President Soeharto's son Bambang Trihatmodjo. The other shareholders include Hughes, Telesat of Canada, Adiwoso, PSN executive Iskandar and a number of other executives.

PSN, which acquires used-satellites and reactivates them, has total assets of $20 million, which will increase to about $70 million when the Palapa-C satellites are in orbit. The launching of Palapa-C1 is scheduled for late next year and Palapa-C2 six months later. (icn)

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