First Mobile Service Using Geostationary Satellite

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Asia Pacific Systems (AP Systems, President Jung Ki-ro) held a commencement ceremony for its geostationary satellite mobile service on April 6, in their office building at Gasan-dong, Seoul. The service is the first commercial service in Korea using a geosynchronous high earth orbit satellite.

An AP Systems’ satellite phone costs 924,000 won (US$701.30), and using 50 minutes in a month costs 80,000 won (US$60.50), which is the cheapest flat rate.

AP Systems predicts that it will earn 7.5 billion won (US$5.7 million) and collect 6,000 subscribers in Korea in its first year by providing distinguished service no matter where someone is.

Satellite telecommunication services started in Korea in the late 1990s, and now there are about twenty thousand subscribers and a market valued at 45 billion won (US$34.1 million). An existing satellite phone costs an average of 1.5 million won (US$1,138.5), and service fees average about 200,000 won (US$151.8) per month.

There are three major satellite phone providers in Korea. KT provides satellite telecommunications through Inmarsat, LG Dacom Corporation through Globalstar, and Korea Orbcomm provides satellite data communications services directly. Among them only the LG Dacom Corporation uses a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite. Foreign and domestic ships and public institutions usually use this service.

Ryoo Jang-soo, Chairman & CEO of AP Systems, said: “This start in Korea helps our company to live up to our reputation – a satellite phone manufacturer and satellite mobile service provider. Although the satellite telecommunication market is small, this is an essential market.”

Mr. Omran, second from left, Chairman of UAE-based Etisalat

AP Systems plans to make inroads into foreign markets such as China, Indonesia, and Malaysia within this year and will prepare to collect foreign subscribers.
Before this year, AP Systems had focused its efforts on semiconductors, display devices, and solar energy equipment. But from this year it decided to expand its satellite-related businesses such as satellite phone exports, foreign and domestic satellite services, and the manufacturing of mid-size and large satellites.

There were about fifty domestic and foreign VIPs at the ceremony: Mohammad Hassan Omran who is a chairman of UAE-based Thuraya and Etisalat; Abdulla Mohammed Al-Ma’ainah who is the UAE Ambassador to Korea; Lee Byeong-gi who is a standing commissioner of the Korea Communications Commission; Lee Joo-jin who is a president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute; and others.

The following is an interview with Mr. Omran, Chairman of UAE-based Etisalat – Ed.

Q: Could you please explain your company Etisalat, and also your trial? Because many Koreans don’t know your company exactly, so please explain your company briefly.

A: Etisalat is the main telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates, where we offer all kinds of telecom like mobile, fiber optic, video, and so on. We are also operators in 18 Arab countries where we operate mobile and other telecom services. We own a lot of submarine cables and we are also a major shareholder in Thuraya. Thuraya is a specialized solution for remote areas using satellites in order to offer mobile services. And remote areas, and the sea, and offer also emergency services using Thuraya systems. So this is the relation between the two companies.

Etisalat is the very large operator in the UAE, and in other countries, and with a market cap of around 25 billion dollars. Where we are at once in many areas where we have… always we were number one to introduce the mobile systems in the whole Middle East back in ’82. We were number one to introduce GSM in ’94 and 3G in 2003. We also operate an Internet hub in the UAE to serve the whole region by connecting it to submarine cables from different countries and with the East and West. Thank you very much.

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