THE INFORMATION and Communications Technology Ministry has hired Thammasat University Research and Consultancy Institute (TU-RAC) to conduct a feasibility study to develop a state-owned communications satellite.
The move is part of the government’s plan to utilise communications technology to support economic and social development and to enable people to get quick access to state information.
The government also wants to have its own communications satellite to cater to the rising usage of satellites for communications, instead of relying mainly on Thaicom satellites.
The country’s sole satellite operator, Thaicom, has allocated six and a half transponders of its broadcasting satellites for state agencies on a rental basis and another transponder for their use free of charge. The state agencies also use a combined two gigabytes per second (gbps) of data bandwidth for Thaicom’s iPSTAR broadband satellite.
As one part of the TU-RAC study, the total satellite usage by the state agencies is expected to grow between 3 per cent to 5 per cent annually, taking in 14 transponders and utilising four gpbs in next five years. These figures indicate that the agencies’ demand for satellite services in the next five years will be the equivalent of only half the normal 24-transponder satellite.
The cost of satellite usage by state agencies is projected to reach Bt4.296 billion per year in 2021 and Bt5.788 billion per year in 2026, up from the current Bt1.76 billion per year. Of the Bt1.76 billion, Bt297 million per year is the cost of using 6.5 satellite transponders, while Bt680 million is for using two gbps bandwidth, and Bt783 million per year is for broadcasting.
Group Captain Somsak Khaosuwan, deputy permanent secretary of the ICT Ministry, said recently that the study would be submitted to the government for consideration once it was completed.
Currently the state agencies use a total of two gbps of satellite bandwidth on the Ku band for promoting educational activities, which is expected to increase to four gpbs in 2021.
They use 0.25 C-band transponders for providing medical services, which is expected to rise to two transponders in 2021.
They use 0.25 transponders on the Ku band for public disaster relief, which is expected to remain unchanged by 2021, and use one C-band transponder and 2.5 Ku-band transponders for national security, expected to increase to two C-band transponders and six Ku-band transponders by 2021.
The agencies use two C-band transponders for other activities – forecast to be three transponders in 2021.