Displaying items by tag: communications
Iridium announces first quarter results; lowers 2020 outlook
Iridium Communications reported financial results for the first quarter of 2020 and updated its full-year 2020 outlook. Net loss was $31.7 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2020, as compared to net loss of $18.0 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2019.
This increase in net loss was primarily the result of debt extinguishment costs associated with Iridium’s refinancing of its senior unsecured notes. Operational EBITDA for the first quarter was $92.1 million, as compared to $78.0 million for the prior-year period, representing a year-over-year increase of 18% and an operational EBITDA margin of 63%.
Iridium reported first-quarter total revenue of $145.3 million, which consisted of $116.0 million of service revenue and $29.3 million of revenue related to equipment sales and engineering and support projects. Total revenue increased 9% from the comparable period of 2019, while service revenue grew 8% from the year-ago period. Service revenue, which represents primarily recurring revenue from Iridium’s growing subscriber base, was 80% of total revenue for the first quarter of 2020.
The Company ended the quarter with 1,332,000 total billable subscribers, which compares to 1,151,000 for the year-ago period and is up from 1,300,000 for the quarter ended December 31, 2019. Total billable subscribers grew 16% year-over-year, driven by growth in commercial and government IoT customers.
“In the first quarter, Iridium delivered solid growth in total revenue and billable subscribers, driven by strong gains in service revenue, engineering and support services, and equipment sales. New revenue from Iridium Certus® broadband, along with increases in contractual revenue from the U.S. government and Aireon also aided our results,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. Desch added, “Iridium is pleased to have completed all planned refinancing activities in recent months, and we remain confident in our ability to generate significant free cash flow in 2020 and beyond. Accordingly, we continue to be committed to undertaking shareholder-friendly activities in due course.”
Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 to the business, Desch said, “In March we began to see a reduction in the pace of subscriber additions, and heard from some of our many partners about varying levels of business impact depending on their industry. Into April, these trends accelerated. While we continue to forecast overall growth in service revenue and Operational EBITDA for 2020, we are updating our full-year outlook to account for these unfavorable impacts.”
Desch continued, “Iridium’s satellite services are used for mission-critical applications across the globe, and our revenue base has, historically, been more resilient than many businesses to exogenous shocks and economic cycles, though the current economic shutdown is unprecedented. The timing of the shutdown coincides with Iridium’s peak season and will impact us accordingly. Still, we remain confident in Iridium’s ongoing financial position and our capacity to generate significant free cash flow.”
Commercial service remained the largest part of Iridium’s business, representing 63% of the Company’s total revenue during the first quarter. The Company’s commercial customer base is diverse and includes markets such as maritime, aviation, oil and gas, mining, recreation, forestry, construction, transportation and emergency services. These customers rely on Iridium’s products and services as critical to their daily operations and integral to their communications and business infrastructure.
Commercial service revenue was $91.0 million, up 7% from last year’s comparable period due to an increase in revenue primarily from hosted payload and other data services, broadband and IoT.
Commercial voice and data subscribers were up 1% from the year-ago period to 351,000 customers. Commercial voice and data average revenue per user (“ARPU”) was $40 during the first quarter, unchanged from last year’s comparable period. Commercial IoT data subscribers grew 22% from the year-ago period to 830,000 customers, driven by continued strength in consumer personal communications and tracking devices. Commercial IoT data ARPU was $9.71 in the first quarter, compared to $11.32 in last year’s comparable period.
Commercial broadband revenue was $8.7 million, up from $6.8 million in the year-ago period. This rise was primarily attributable to the introduction of Iridium Certus broadband service. Commercial broadband average revenue per user (“ARPU”) was $267 during the first quarter, compared to $233 in last year’s comparable period.
Iridium’s commercial business ended the quarter with 1,192,000 billable subscribers, which compares to 1,036,000 for the year-ago period and is up from 1,165,000 for the quarter ended December 31, 2019. IoT data subscribers represented 70% of billable commercial subscribers at the end of the quarter, an increase from 65% at the end of the prior-year period.
Hosted payload and other data service revenue was $16.3 million in the first quarter compared to $13.9 million in the prior-year period, which was primarily due to increased Aireon data service fees related to a contractual step-up.
Iridium’s voice and data solutions improve situational awareness for military personnel and track critical assets in tough environments around the globe, providing a unique value proposition that is not easily duplicated.
Under the Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services contract (the “EMSS Contract”), a seven-year, $738.5 million fixed-price airtime contract with the U.S. Air Force Space Command signed in September 2019, Iridium provides specified satellite airtime services, including unlimited global standard and secure voice, paging, fax, Short Burst Data®, Iridium Burst®, RUDICS and Distributed Tactical Communications System services for an unlimited number of Department of Defense and other federal government subscribers. Iridium also provides maintenance and support work for the U.S. government’s dedicated Iridium gateway under two other contracts with the U.S. Air Force Space Command. Iridium Certus airtime services are not included under these contracts and may be procured separately for an additional fee.
Government service revenue was $25.0 million and reflected increased revenue from the Company’s EMSS Contract.
Iridium’s government business ended the quarter with 140,000 subscribers, which compares to 115,000 for the year-ago period and is up from 135,000 for the quarter ended December 31, 2019. Government voice and data subscribers rose 11% from the year-ago period to 59,000 as of March 31, 2020. IoT data subscribers increased 31% year-over-year and represented 58% of government subscribers, an increase from 54% at the end of the prior-year period.
Equipment revenue was $22.3 million during the first quarter, up 6% from the prior-year period.
Due to the combined effects of the current global shutdown, deterioration in the oil and gas market, and strength of the U.S. dollar, the Company now expects full-year equipment sales will be down from 2019 levels.
Engineering and support revenue was $7.0 million during the first quarter, compared to $5.7 million in the prior year’s quarter, primarily due to an increase in the volume of contracted work.
Capital expenditures were $9.5 million for the first quarter, which includes $1.2 million of capitalized interest. The Company ended the first quarter with gross debt of $1.65 billion and a cash and cash equivalents balance of $67.3 million, for a net debt balance of $1.58 billion.
Two noteworthy transactions have impacted the structure of Iridium’s debt financing over the last two quarters. In November 2019, the Company entered into a seven-year, $1.45 billion secured Term Loan. The proceeds of the Term Loan, along with the cash in the Company’s debt service reserve account and cash on hand, were used to prepay all of the indebtedness outstanding under its BPIAE Facility and premiums for early prepayment, net of amounts refunded, of $48.9 million. On February 7, 2020, the Company closed on an additional $200.0 million under its Term Loan. On February 13, 2020, the Company used the proceeds of this transaction, together with cash on hand, to prepay all of the $360.0 million in indebtedness outstanding under the Company’s senior unsecured notes, premiums for early prepayment of $23.5 million, and accrued interest.
Given the current global shutdown and macroeconomic uncertainties, the Company updated its full-year 2020 outlook and currently anticipates:
- Growth in total service revenue for full-year 2020. Total service revenue for 2019 was $447.2 million.
- Growth in OEBITDA for full-year 2020. OEBITDA for 2019 was $331.7 million.
- Negligible cash taxes in 2020. Cash taxes are expected to be negligible through approximately 2023.
- Net leverage of no more than 4.4 times OEBITDA at the end of 2020. Net leverage was 4.8 times OEBITDA at December 31, 2019.
Nokia Bell Labs and French research lab to examine human needs in all contexts of communications
Nokia and Inria, a French national research institute dedicated to promoting 'scientific excellence in the service of technology transfer and society as a whole', announced the renewal of their joint lab for a four-year period. The announcement took place during an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Inria with Marcus Weldon, Nokia CTO and Nokia Bell Labs President, and Antoine Petit, Inria CEO.
"Nokia Bell Labs collaborates with the best academic teams in the world on solving the key technical challenges confronting humankind. Together, Inria and Bell Labs are collaborators and co-pioneers in this endeavor, with a rich and fruitful relationship over the past 20 years,” said Marcus Weldon, Nokia Chief Technical Officer and Nokia Bell Labs President.
“We have even higher expectations and plans for our future collaboration via our common laboratory centered on addressing the fundamental challenges of humans in the future connected world,” Weldon added.
Launched in 2008, the joint lab associates permanent researchers from the two partners with PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, sharing the same strategic vision to solve the key scientific challenges linked to the evolution of networks and network applications. The aim of this joint research is to offer users the benefits from required network and cloud resources for a contextual and personalized experience of the digital connected world.
The future networks will have to manage a multitude of connected objects, to host and interconnect massively distributed functions, to feature an unprecedented agility to support differentiated and demanding use cases like the connected car, industry 4.0, smart city and e-health. This will require strong guarantees in terms of security and privacy, while hiding the complexity through a high level of automation.
To achieve this aim, this new phase of the common lab will associate advanced research in information theory, machine learning, graph theory, game theory, cybersecurity, network virtualization and advanced control software.
The scope of the collaboration covers several research actions dedicated to information theory and algorithms to solve the challenges of IoT; analytics and machine learning to dynamically and automatically optimize the virtualized network; scalable distributed learning and control for augmented intelligence to operate complex IoT networks of dynamic elements; and cybersecurity to provide privacy, data integrity and resilience against intrusions.
"Inria develops the whole scope from research to applications in the area of computer science and applied mathematics. With leading companies, we operate joint labs that are focused on long term cooperation,” said Antoine Petit, Inria CEO.
“With Nokia Bell Labs we develop technologies that will power the future of networks and telecommunication. Our common goal is to produce new scientific results as well as new innovations that can enrich the technologies and products developed by Nokia. It is the DNA of Inria to go from high level research to industrial applications."
UAE mobile satellite communications firm keeps Mt. Everest climbers ‘connected’ on summit journey
Thuraya recently worked with service partners, Talia and NBS Maritime, to sponsor and support two climbers - Holly Budge and Dr. Atanas Skatov - in their summit expeditions to Mount Everest. Both Ms. Budge and Dr. Skatov completed their missions successfully and were able to stay connected with wireless data via Thuraya IP+ satellite terminals throughout their steep trek.
The first woman to skydive over Everest in 2008, British mountaineer Ms. Budge conquered her latest Himalayan quest on 15th April 2017. She used her iPhone 7 connected to the Thuraya IP+ to share live footage of her summit success on Facebook.
A social media regular, Ms. Budge further commented on being able to post her real-time videos; she wrote: “The innovation lies in the latest cutting-edge, lightweight and portable technology that will allow me to intimately document my expedition, giving an unedited and raw insight into the world of big mountain climbing.”
Bulgarian alpinist Dr. Skatov similarly summited Everest on 21st May 2017. Dr. Skatov achieved his second-time Everest record a mere 6 days after becoming the first vegan to scale the rough trails of Mount Lhotse. Equipped with remote streaming via the IP+ terminal, Dr. Skatov was also able to stay constantly in touch with the basecamp and share stunning 360-degree videos of his journey.
Thuraya regularly serves adventurers around the world with broadband offerings like Thuraya IP+. Designed to support mobility and remote data coverage, the IP+ is portable, lightweight and can be deployed from backpack to broadband within seconds.
Thuraya’s work lies in pioneering satellite technology to deliver communication capabilities at all times to everyone, everywhere. The company ensures that people on critical missions can stay safe with swift voice and data access to teams, family and friends, and works with global service providers to make flexible and reliable products that best meet the specific connectivity needs of its diverse customers.
Egypt’s Minister for ICT emphasizes ICT as a key transformational enabler for government
Egypt’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, His Excellency Eng. Yasser El Kady, was an esteemed guest of the Telecom Review Summit 2016. Eng. El Kady received the Award for ‘Telecom Leader of the Year for Government and Non-Profit Organizations’ for his expertise in serving the industry for over 25 years, enabling him to gain solid experience in technology transformation strategies and planning for Egypt and the Region.
Throughout his career, he worked on implementing several development initiatives to support entrepreneurship, talent development and export of IT products and services. Minister El Kady gave an inspiring keynote speech at the Summit, in which he started by examining how Egypt and the UAE can share progressive plans for sustainable development.
During his keynote speech, Eng. El Kady explained that in Egypt, and in other regions, governments are now executing sustainable development plans, noting that Egypt’s sustainable development strategy bears the title “Egypt Vision 2030”. The main pillars of the Strategy include social justice, knowledge and innovation and economic development. “ICTs are at the core of this Vision and over 30 projects have been implemented”.
Minister El Kady highlighted the importance of political support and backing to effectively execute aggressive and innovative transformational plans, stating that the leadership of the nation extends full support for the ICT sector.
The Minister shared the recent deployment of national telecom and IT infrastructure projects, emphasizing improved services offered to the citizens, he also referred to the successful awarding of the 4G licenses to Egypt’s four operators, allowing them to offer numerous new services for their subscribers.
Minister El Kady also shared at the Summit his vision for smart communities in Egypt, highlighting an official mandate that all new cities should be smart; the first being the New Capital. The Minister also emphasized Egypt’s successful experience in developing technology zones (due to develop seven) each embracing an innovation and entrepreneurship center to work on new technologies, generate intellectual property and address local as well as global challenges.
Eng. El Kady asserts that Egypt is considered a very lucrative market for business, and remains confident about his sector, “we are growing positively this year, from one digit to double digits– 10.5%; the sector is contributing by 3.2% to the GDP and we expect this contribution to continue to grow,” the Minister said. .
Minister El Kady asserted that the Egyptian government has recently taken important steps for economic reform, “as a consequence foreign investment in the ICT sector started to flow. Electronic manufacturing stands on top of our agenda; currently four international manufacturing entities have decided to invest in Egypt by establishing facilities in the new technology zones of Assiyut (south of Egypt) and Borg El Arab (north of Egypt), they are due to start production Q1 2017.” He added: “We have aggressive plans to export out of Egypt to meet regional and global demand.”
World-leading satellite operators unite to support Global Humanitarian Community
Global leaders in the satellite industry have combined to help support the humanitarian community in times of devastation and crisis - by signing a Crisis Connectivity Charter which will effectively enhance connectivity during humanitarian emergencies.
There have been a number of dreadful humanitarian emergencies across the globe in the last twelve months alone: Vanuatu, Nepal and the Philippines all felt the devastating effects of natural disasters which were brought on as a result of climate change, and those disasters also reiterated to us just how important the role of communications is in times of crisis.
The historic announcement of this new charter will see the world’s leading satellite operators unite to support regions left shattered by natural disasters – by collectively delivering improved global coverage and connectivity. The satellite sector is systematically part of the first responder team, which provides immediate communication links that support supply logistics, urgent medical care and coordination of relief efforts.
At the World Humanitarian Summit Global Consultation which was held in Geneva, it was officially announced that the world’s leading satellite operators would sign this incredible charter which will ultimately help save many, many lives during times of natural disasters.
The satellite operators that signed the charter include Eutelsat, Hispasat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, SES, Thuraya and Yahsat - which all came under the collective umbrella of the EMEA Satellite Operators Association(ESOA) Global VSAT Forum (GVF), to confirm its pledge to aid the humanitarian community by signing the Crisis Connectivity Charter along with the global humanitarian community which was represented by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).
Yahsat is an Abu Dhabi-based company that provides multipurpose satellite solutions for broadband, broadcast, government, and communications use across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe in addition to South West Asia. Yahsat is owned by the Mubadala Development Company which is the investment vehicle of the Government of Abu Dhabi and are renowned for being the first company to offer multi-purpose ka-band satellite services.
Those in attendance at the conference were told that the Crisis Connectivity Charter basically formalizes terms and protocols designed to accelerate the ability of emergency response teams to access satellite-based communications when local networks are affected, destroyed or overloaded after a disaster.
Some of the principles of the charter were also disclosed and some of these include increased coordination to prioritize access to bandwidth for humanitarian purposes during disaster operations; pre-positioned satellite equipment and transmission capacity at times of disaster in 20 high-risk countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, as identified by the ETC and beyond; as well as training and capacity building for the humanitarian community across all five continents.
ESOA is the world’s only CEO-driven satellite association, and leads a coordinated satellite communications sector. The Brussels-based trade association through membership brings together all European, Middle East and African satellite operators and supporting members including service providers, manufacturers and launch service providers. It’s a source of great honor and pride that ESOA were able to bind together this fantastic collaboration of businesses to support the humanitarian community by signing the Crisis Connectivity Charter.
The association represents all satellite operators from the EMEA region and other companies that engage in satellite-related activities. It offers a unified voice for the world’s largest operators and important regional operators towards all international, regional and national organizations and regulators. By providing a unified voice and platform for global collaboration, ESOA increases opportunities for governments, businesses and citizens to leverage satellite services in order to bring connectivity through high quality telecommunications services to users everywhere, on land, in the air or at sea. Through minimal infrastructure providing ubiquitous coverage, satellites allow communications across national boundaries, without discriminating on the basis of economic differences between nations.
Secretary General of ESOA, Aarti Holla, said he was honored that ESOA was chosen to lead the concerted effort to gather all satellite operators together under a collective umbrella to enhance the response to humanitarian emergencies.
Mr. Holla said, “ESOA is honored to have led this effort on behalf of member satellite operators who collectively deliver global coverage and connectivity. We have to recognize that the number of crises around the world is increasing both as a result of climate change and geo-politics. As a result, the unique ability of satellite solutions to save lives is becoming indispensable and the Crisis Connectivity Charter will enable the ETC to trigger pre-positioned satellite solutions in any one of their 20 high-risk countries or beyond.”
UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, echoed those sentiments and said the collaboration between the satellite operators represented a significant step for the humanitarian community.
Mr. O’Brien said: “The humanitarian community relies on satellite communications as they are the only technology that are immune to natural disasters and that can be immediately deployed, regardless of constraints such as geography. This is a significant step for the humanitarian community and a step change in the way we have worked with satellite operators in the past.”
Chair of the ETC and Chief Information Officer of the World Food Programme (WFP), Jakob Kern, said he believed the collective gathering of the world’s leading satellite operators could ensure that by 2020, all those responding to disasters can communicate to respond, recover and redevelop – but most importantly of all he feels the charter will save lives.
“The Crisis Connectivity Charter seeks to ensure improved access to communications services in humanitarian emergencies, and with satellite services we can save lives. Through the Crisis Connectivity Charter and the ETC network, we endeavor to ensure that by 2020 all those responding to disasters, including affected people, can communicate to respond, recover and redevelop. Mobilizing their members in this way, ESOA and GVF are supporting the ETC in making this vision a reality.”
David Hartshorn, Secretary General of GVF, hopes that the charter will enable governments and administrations all over the world to recognize to the vital role satellite operators play in not only its response to natural disasters, but also its standing in the world’s telecommunications infrastructure.
“Our members provide emergency communications on all continents using key satellite spectrum such as the C-band,” he said. “We hope governments and administrations the world over will recognize the vital role satellite operators play in the globe’s telecommunications infrastructure and its ability to ensure an immediate, robust and resilient response to disasters.”
SpeedCast purchases Eutelsat’s WINS further consolidating maritime satellite communications
On August 8, French satellite operator Eutelsat announced that it had sold its 70 percent stake in maritime satellite communications provider WINS Ltd to SpeedCast International, a Hong Kong-based global network and satellite communications provider. SpeedCast will reportedly pay 60 million euros ($66.9 million) in cash for the entire WINS business. It’s the latest in the expected consolidation of the maritime satellite communications market.
The acquisition comes just a week after Apax Partners-owned Marlink announced the acquisition of Telemar in June from Airbus Defence and Space. According to Apax, the increased size of the company would produce annual revenues of $450 million and would operate a work force of over 800, serving one-third of the global maritime vessel fleet including merchant vessels, cruise and ferry operators, yachting and fishing markets.
“Leveraging our two well-established brands, Marlink and Telemar will create the world’s leading maritime communications, digital solutions and servicing company,” said Marlink chief executive, Erik Ceuppens in a statement about the transaction.
SpeedCast has been on a roll with recent acquisitions. The company said it would finance the purchase of WINS from Eutelsat by raising at least 62.1 Australian dollars ($47.2 million) in new equity. Chief executive Perre-Jean Beylier said WINS gives SpeedCast access to the German market and will strengthen its position in the cruise market. He believes that the WINS addition will advance SpeedCast to achieve its goal of being one of the top three global providers of maritime services. He said Germany is a “key hub for merchant shipping in Europe and a market primed for accelerated VSAT adoption.”
“Passenger-carrying vessels, particularly cruise vessels, are an attractive growth segment and a natural extension of SpeedCast’s existing maritime business,” Beylier said in a statement. “Coupled with our strong presence in Asia, where the cruise industry is expected to benefit from the emergence of a sizable middle class, and also our presence in Miami, the cruise industry’s world capital, this acquisition will facilitate our development.”
Eutelsat’s selling of its stake in WINS comes after the company announced in May that it would streamline its portfolio to focus on generating income, after being faced with “near-term market headwinds that forced it to revise downward its revenue profit forecasts,” says a report by Space News. In a statement on August 8, Eutelsat announced: “In a consolidating market, the transaction will enable WINS to benefit from the scale of a leading global network and satellite communications service provider. The sale of Eutelsat’s stake in WINS is consistent with its strategy of streamlining its asset portfolio in order to maximize free-cash flow generation.”
Ooredoo’s exemplary corporate excellence
What exactly does business excellence entail? By one definition, business excellence is defined as the current global term for an integrated collection of proven practices for how a business should operate to become the best it can be, most often elevating it to global status. To achieve business excellence is not an easy task, therefore recognizing those who are able to establish it are often recognized for their efforts.