Home >> May 2009 Edition >> EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT On... Rob Bednarek, President + CEO, SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES

Rob Bednarek heads up global satellite services company SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES, a newly combined division of SES that brings together SES AMERICOM, the leading supplier of satellite solutions in the U.S., with the strategic global satellite services of SES NEW SKIES.

His company’s fleet has grown overnight from eight to 24 spacecraft. The 25-year industry vet leads the newly formed organization of 400 employees worldwide from two offices a world apart — in The Hague, Netherlands and Princeton, New Jersey. The organization’s global span is perfectly aligned with the daily global coverage needs of his company’s media, enterprise and government customers.

Television networks and programming producers, the biggest names and innovators in business, and some of the largest network operators and government agencies in the world are among a growing roster of clients that depend on SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES for reliable content delivery and communications connectivity anywhere, anytime.

Taking the reins at SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES was a natural for Bednarek, whose impressive career includes a series of senior posts, including his continued participation on the Executive Committee of SES (the parent of SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES as well as SES ASTRA in Europe). Bednarek also oversees the company’s participation in satellite operators Ciel in Canada, and QuetzSat in Mexico. He has previously served as President and CEO at SES New Skies, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at SES, and as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at PanAmSat. Early in his career, he was the Deputy Chief Scientist for the U.S. Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

SatMagazine caught up with him in Washington, DC, where he unveiled his vision for the new satellite powerhouse that combine the two complementary satellite networks.

Rob, you’re a busy man. You’ve taken two industry leaders in SES AMERICOM and SES NEW SKIES and formed a global giant. What is the goal behind the combination of two leading firms?

Rob Bednarek
Our goal is to develop and deliver the global satellite services and support systems that enable our customers to realize, and even exceed, their ambitions. SES stands for industry innovation, reliability, stability and a long-term commitment to the satellite business and our customers’ networks. Combine those strengths with the complete global coverage provided by our 24 satellites accessible anywhere, anytime and we think SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES is well positioned to serve customers around the world.

NEW SKIES and AMERICOM have both earned customer trust and established strong reputations over the years. AMERICOM has a 30-plus year tradition of reliability and operational excellence serving North America with innovation, expertise and state-of-the-art solutions. NEW SKIES has excelled at breaking into new markets and putting capacity in places where we can help customers thrive by developing and evolving exciting new markets and services.

Together, the two companies combined will further change the satellite landscape. SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES will challenge our competitors and serve customers with both choice capacity and deep knowledge and experience in media distribution and telecom connectivity.

We will be announcing a new name for the newly combined division later this year, so stay tuned.

What are the biggest benefits SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES offers to the global marketplace?

Rob Bednarek
Clearly, the top benefit is presenting global scale capacity suited to customer needs, either locally or across continents. When you join customers’ ambitions with our satellites, there really are no limits to what we will accomplish together.

We’re strongly positioned to better share insights gained in one part of the world with those who may be able to benefit elsewhere. For example, the rapid growth of HDTV in the U.S. is just beginning in other markets. Our history and leadership in HD delivery is valuable to customers contemplating the need for high-def programming.

Likewise, our vast networking and broadband experience allows us to tailor our capacity and services to a wide variety of needs irrespective of location. We can alert customers to developments we believe will improve their business prospects. Last, but perhaps most importantly, the scale achieved by our newly combined entities supports even further improvements in our customer service — from expanded teams to enhanced tools.

Where are your most promising growth hotspots geographically speaking? And has the economic downturn affected any major customer initiatives?

Rob Bednarek
SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES’ global opportunities are as varied, diverse and exciting as the markets we serve and the solutions we offer to media, enterprise and government markets.

India, Africa and Middle East markets continue to grow, and industry investments in these regions that drive communications and media developments, remain on track.

Our NSS-12 satellite, slated for launch in Q3 this year, is another great illustration of demand. That platform will deliver a great mix of DTH, VSAT, and telecom applications with Africa, Middle East, and AOR coverage. And it’s nearly sold out.

The U.S. and North America remain solid as well, where bandwidth for HD advancements is required. ION Media Networks, for example, just launched its flagship network in HD on one of our HD-PRIME birds, AMC-1. We’ve just surpassed the 65 HD channel mark on the HD-PRIME platform, which is home to HD leaders such as Discovery HD Theater, Showtime HD, Food Network HD, and HGTV HD.

On the subject of your combined fleet, SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES has 24 spacecraft. What is your overall fleet strategy going forward?

Rob Bednarek
The entire SES fleet counts 40 spacecraft today, and with nine satellites currently under construction SES is pursuing one of the industries most ambitious expansion programs. Satellite capacity is the key ingredient that allows us to enable the continued growth of our customers in markets around the world. That’s no secret.

SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES is dedicated to maintaining and expanding the capacity we need to meet the near and long term needs of our global customers. NSS-9, launched in February, is located over the Pacific Ocean region with a broad distribution range. It can reached from Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, China and Korea to the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, and Polynesia. Customers can also tap the global beam on board NSS-9 for coverage of the entire Earth.

It replaced NSS-5, which is now free to support a wide range of missions with its flexible C- and Ku-band capacity. We will certainly leverage our legacy satellites, as they are replaced, to provide expanded coverage and redundancy.

Over the U.S., AMC-21 has done extremely well supporting anchor tenant PBS and its 356 public television stations and the delivery of mobile broadband services to the oil and gas industry, the U.S. government, and maritime broadband users across the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

Our capacity strategy also ensures strong inventory and online access to our global occasional solutions as well. We have a tradition of carrying the biggest breaking news stories, political campaigns and conventions, national weather coverage, and sporting events in the world — from the Olympics and the Super Bowl to March Madness. We are clearly a leader in sports content distribution worldwide and we look forward to growing that role with our global platform.

A quick view of upcoming fleet activity has NSS-12 scheduled for launch in Q3 and NSS-14 on the fast track for 2010. Overall, the near term net gain is 200 transponders soon to be supporting everything from broadcast to broadband delivery to just about anywhere you can imagine.

You have always been one to put your imagination and visionary skills to good use for the companies you lead. Can you share with us what the future holds for SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES and your customers?

Rob Bednarek
I think it’s safe to say the future looks very bright. I’m pleased with where we are today and with the support and encouragement we receive from SES regarding our continued growth and development. Our business today is built on great relationships with a wonderful set of customers.

Our account teams know their business and thoroughly understand our customers’ challenges and opportunities. We have dedicated ourselves to further improve service, including increased technical support and more flexibility and creativity in an ever-changing market environment.

In addition to our strong operating focus, we continue to support future development of our capacity and services. We have plans for additional satellites and we are fully involving our customers in the design of those spacecraft to support their needs five to 10 years out

We are also working to ensure that our capacity is suitable for an increasing array of applications in new areas, including the mobile and government sectors.

Advanced HD and IP encapsulated video are certainly exciting, and SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES is well positioned to support these evolving developments and the rollout of networks around the world.