Bharti Time for Gilat and IBM


After a rough 2007 — in which they lost $335,000 on nearly $40 million in revenues,  compared to a 2006 profit of just over $250,000 — Israel’s Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. is entering 2008 with some good news:

Israel’s Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. announced Monday that it will supply India’s Bharti Airtel with a broadband satellite network comprising more than 13,000 small two-way ground stations.

The new network, using Gilat’s SkyEdge technology, will be used by Bharti Airtel to offer information and communication services to the local citizens of India’s Gujarat State.

The agreement "will enable remote citizens in the state of Gujarat to benefit from information and e-governance services," Erez Antebi, CEO of Gilat Network Systems, said in a statement.

Gilat offers VSATs or very small aperture terminal, a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna, in India.

SkyEdge is a satellite communications system that delivers high-quality voice, broadband data and video services over a powerful unified system. 

No word yet on the value of the contract, but it’s probably just a taste of the satellite broadband opportunities that are rapidly emerging in India. Compare it, for example, to the deal Bharti signed with IBM, which includes direct-to-home satellite services and IPTV:

In a bid to boost its triple play platform, Bharti Airtel has awarded a $150-million contract to IBM to provide IT solutions and services to support broadcasting services such as DTH and IPTV.

Bharti had already outsourced its IT requirement for the telecom business and the new deal is aimed at providing a one-stop experience spanning mobile, PC and television. 

A direct-to-home satellite TV service in India is, of course, the satcom motherloade. People have been trying to launch that kind of service for years. Back in 1999, News Corp’s ISkyB attempted it in partnership with Hughes; Star TV India was another service from News Corp, which is now a collection of premium content for India.