[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]


                                        November 6, 1998 
                  IRIDIUM PROJECT 

 TSC, Japan
 partners look to

 New venture to market mobile phone

 Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn and Nondhanada

 Thai Satellite Communication Plc (TSC) and two Japanese partners
 have formed a new company to provide the Iridium mobile phone
 service in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific

 TSC, the Thai partner in the Iridium global mobile-phone project, will
 hold 50% of the shares in the new company, Iridium Southeast Asia
 Co (Isea). Kyocera Corp and DDI Corp will jointly hold the other

 The Communications Authority of Thailand will be paid a fee for
 connecting calls. 

 Although TSC was a partner in the Iridium global project, launched
 last Sunday, it would no longer be in charge of providing services,
 president Piyabutra Vasudhara said yesterday. 

 TSC would become a holding company for Isea and focus on finding
 more satellite-based telecommunications business, said Mr Piyabutra,
 who is also chief executive of Isea. 

 The Japanese partners have jointly invested US$50 million in Isea,
 which has registered capital of 1.7 billion baht.

 "Although TSC and Japanese partners hold equal shares, Thai
 executives still have most authority in management," he said.

 Kyocera and DDI would strengthen TSC's finances and management,
 as well as its plans for a capital increase. All the Japanese funds had
 been spent on equipment, promotions and staff.

 The company planned to raise between $30 million and $50 million
 within two years to increase its stock of switching equipment, currently
 60,000 units.

 "It depends on how the service takes off. If we are doing well enough,
 we might not need more funds,"

 Isea aims to sell 15,000 handsets in Thailand, with the first 2,000 due
 to arrive next week. Bookings opened a few weeks ago and it has
 already received 800. Singapore and Malaysia will each receive 1,000
 phones initially.

 "Most orders were from people working in remote areas, our primary
 customers," Mr Piyabutra said.

 Iridium handsets are priced at 170,000 baht each for single-mode
 type. Dual-mode units are expected to be available by year-end at
 200,000 each. The monthly service fee is 2,250 baht, plus a 1,600
 baht activation fee.

 Local calls are 90 baht a minute, calls within Southeast Asia 200 baht,
 and other countries 250 baht. 

 Tsuneyoshi Narahara, senior managing director of DDI and director of
 Isea, said his company had joined Iridium because Asia was the key
 region for the services and Thailand was the most interesting prospect.

 Masahiro Umemura, senior managing director of Kyocera Corp and
 director for Isea, said mutual respect and trust of TSC was the key
 factor for his company. 

 Kyocera, a telecommunications equipment manufacturer, was founded
 by Kazuo Inamori in 1959. It reported total sales last year worth $5.7

 Dr Inamori also founded DDI Corp in 1984 with initial registered
 capital of $558 million. The company is a major player in cellular
 communications and Japan's PHS service - a type of mobile phone
 service with some limitations on usage range, as well as the Iridium
 system. DDI's sales last year totalled $8.1 billion last year.

 TSC, a subsidiary of the United Communications Industry (Ucom)
 group, was founded in 1992 with registered capital of $50 million.
 Ucom has a 40% stake in TSC.

 Meanwhile, Ovum, an independent group of telecommunications
 analysts, has pointed to a gradually shrinking window of opportunity
 for Iridium and operators of similar services.

 Ovum, based in Melbourne, says that key target markets, such as
 international business travellers, will be able to choose from a growing
 number of global communications options by 2004. 

 Key events moving against Iridium, which Ovum pointed out include:

   The introduction of WorldPhone from the end of 1999. This will
 enable mobile subscribers to roam between GSM, AMPS and
 D-AMPS digital networks. This technology covers more than 80% of
 the mobile subscriber population. 

   The continued emergence of cellular networks. For example,
 coverage of GSM networks in the US is currently limited to some
 urban areas. However, the continued build-out of these networks
 (licences that are committed to GSM cover more than 90% of the US
 population) in the next few years will reduce Iridium's potential market.

   The introduction of Third Generation (3G) technology from 2002



                                                       Learn English


                                                       Real Time


                                                       We Care
                                                       Street Art

                                                       Back Issues

                                                       Last Month


                                                       Annual Report

 © Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 1998
 Last Modified: Fri, Nov 6, 1998
 For comments and letters to the editor see : notes
 Comments to: Webmaster
 Advertising enquiries to Internet Marketing