Warsaw Business Journal interviewed Marcin Frąckiewicz, CEO of TS2 Satellite Technologies, a global satellite access services provider
WBJ: US Marine Corps, US Army Corps of Engineers, GROM and many more... How did you manage to gain these impressive contracts?
Marcin Frąckiewicz: To answer I need to go back to the beginning. During my trips to Iraq I noticed that ordinary American soldiers, different from Polish, had literally no access to the internet or cell-phones to get in touch with their loved ones. This is when we started to offer them a wireless internet access via satellite. Groups of soldiers pooled money to buy our terminals. They referred us to their colleagues from next contingents and so on. Popularity among regular soldiers brought inquiries from official US institutions, and this is how we were allowed to those big tenders with government orders and with contractors for the US Army. US Army Corps of Engineers bought around 100 BGAN terminals – these are smaller than laptops, but are more expensive than over-sized VSAT access equipment. However, individual soldiers still remain our most important customers.
WBJ: How many customers does your company have? Are these just military?
MF: It is a list of about 50-60 institutional customers, not only military, but also private companies that use our VSAT internet access. With our partner we provide services for nine US embassies in Africa. The number of individual soldiers using our services in Iraq and Afghanistan is around 15,000. Non-military customers include Agora, for example, which equips its foreign correspondents with satellite phones. World Bank also uses our phone services. This customer list comprises several hundred.
WBJ: How you make your services competitive?
MF: Price is the key. We cooperate with cheap middleman and also directly with satellite operators. We buy services in Dubai, where our partners' warehouses and distributors of the equipment are located. It is also a tax-free zone, so here go another costs. We have partner install teams on site in the Middle East, so we are able to set up the VSAT access very quickly.
Our company tries to minimize the operation costs, hence our small office and a large network of partners. This is a business, where you win by knowledge rather than by building a big structure.
MP: Will you suffer from recently announced spending cuts at the Defense Ministry?
MF: I doubt it. 85 percent of our orders go abroad. Of course there will be fewer government tenders and the competition will grow. So we have to expect fewer orders for our satellite phones in Poland. Plus some contracts for internet access may not be renewed.
WBJ: What will you do when the American troops withdraw from Iraq then?
MF: From the business point of view obviously we are not looking forward to US pulling out, as most of our activity is based on the US Army presence in the Middle East. We would need to come up with a solution to reorganize our business. But there would still be corporate customers left for us.
WBJ: How do you see the future of this sector?
MF: We are anxiously awaiting launching of the Ka-Sat scheduled for 2010. The aim of this project is to make satellite access services cheap enough for ordinary Kowalski to make use of it. The prices of bands are to drop ten times, while the equipment is also expected to cost a few hundred złoty rather than several thousands. Our company would also like to get involved in this new offer, because it will help us target individual customers.
About TS2 Satellite Provider
TS2 specializes in providing global satellite access services. Our core business is broadband access to the Internet in areas with poor telecommunications infrastructure and mobile satellite phones communication. The main medium of used transmission is a two-way satellite transfer system, which provides good access to the satellite network in even the least accessible areas. It not only provides a broadband connection but also a wide range of additional data and voice services.
Before end of 2008 year, the TS2 solutions have been implemented for United States Marine Corps (USMC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Australian Defence Force (ADF), Command of Polish Navy, Polish National Police, Polish National Headquarters of the State Fire Services, Border Guard (Poland), World Bank Group, Lockheed Martin Information Technology, Halliburton Energy Services, KBR, General Dynamics Information Technology, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, US Naval Research Laboratory, ITT Corporation - Aerospace / Communications Division, CACI Technologies, ARINC Incorporated, North Eastern Aeronautical Company (Neany), Warsaw Stock Exchange, Polish Supreme Chamber of Control, Polish State Railways PKP S.A., University of Warsaw, Reuters, TVP - Polish TV, PAP - Polish Press Agency, BMW - Bayerische Motoren Werke, DaimlerChrysler, IBM - International Business Machines Corporation, HP - Hewlett-Packard, Carrefour, Colgate-Palmolive, PGNiG - Polish Petroleum and Gas Mining, White&Case, Sun Microsystems, PMM - Polish Medical Mission, UPS - United Parcel Service and Polish Medical Air Rescue.
Press Contact: Marcin Frackiewicz LIM Center