Intelsat, the world’s largest provider of commercial satellite services, has an important regional office in Coral Gables.
Operating 50-plus communications satellites that cover more than 99 percent of the world’s populated regions, Intelsat, marking its 50th anniversary this year, has 14 satellites that provide people, businesses and governments in Latin America and the Caribbean with access to cellphones, satellite television, wireless computer and tablet connections, video and data transmission and other advanced communications services.
Intelsat’s sales office for Latin America and the Caribbean, in Coral Gables, works with more than 300 regional customers, including telecommunications, satellite TV, multinational and other companies.
“We’re launching new satellites to meet demand for our customers in Latin America,” said Carmen González-Sanfeliu, Intelsat’s regional vice president for sales in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We’re very much aligned with our customers’ needs,” she said. “And there’s an enormous thirst for broadband in Latin America. Our customers there need much more capability for transmitting information as they expand their reach and as mobility becomes more widespread. Latin America is one of the fastest-growing regions for Intelsat worldwide.”
During the summer World Cup soccer championship games in Brazil, news and sports programmers used Intelsat satellites to transmit more than 50,000 hours of live TV coverage. Reserving extra capacity on seven of its 14 satellites providing service to the region, Intelsat facilitated broadcasting throughout Brazil, distributed the world feed to all of the Americas and supported the distribution and fiber-optic backup requirements of news and sports organizations in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa when needed. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil will also create demand for Intelsat services.
To meet burgeoning demand throughout Latin America, Intelsat is launching three new satellites — one this year and two in 2015. Intelsat’s next launch, the IS-30 communications satellite, is scheduled for Thursday from French Guiana. Earlier in 2014 Intelsat signed a multiyear agreement with HBO Latin America Group to provide programming distribution in the region from the new satellites, which will allow HBO to increase its high-definition channel lineup and reach millions of viewers in the region.
Other Latin American customers are América Movil, Telefónica, Televisa, Globosat, DirecTV Latin America and regional governments that want to expand telecom services in rural areas.
Intelsat’s traditional satellites cost $275 million to $300 million each, and are launched from French Guiana, Cape Kennedy and an offshore platform in the Pacific. After launching, the satellites travel in a fixed orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. They receive signals from ground stations and retransmit them to other ground stations.
A new generation of Intelsat satellites, called High Throughput Satellites, is designed to meet increased demand for media, broadband and mobility, and will cost between 1.2 and two times the price of existing units.
Communications satellites are like “flashlights in the sky,” directing their beams to target areas, said González-Sanfeliu, who has more than 25 of experience in the satellite telecommunications industry. Like a flashlight beam on a wall, she explained, the signals are strongest in the center area and weaker on the fringes. Satellite signal fields sometimes overlap to provide uniform coverage.
Satellites have a typical lifespan of 15 years. “So when we build a satellite, we need to consider our customers’ current telecommunications requirements and the new capacity they will need in the future,” said González-Sanfeliu, who has a bachelor’s degree in international management and computer science from Georgetown University and an MBA from George Washington University.
“Imagine how much technology has changed over the last 15 years,” she added, “just in terms of the cellphones we use.”
González-Sanfeliu, who began working with Intelsat’s information technology division and later moved to sales, oversees a regional office with 30 employees, including sales staff, engineers and special-events personnel who manage communications coverage for occasions like a papal visit and the World Cup.
There are 24 employees in Coral Gables, and six in Mexico and Brazil.
Intelsat, with administrative headquarters in McLean, Virginia, has about 1,100 employees worldwide. Total revenues last year were $2.6 billion and, while the company does not release regional figures, Latin America and the Caribbean represent a significant share of sales. The fastest-growing regional markets: Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia.
González-Sanfeliu is active in local community organizations, including The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, which has provided over $3 million to programs advocating for local women and girls.
For González-Sanfeliu, who was born in Venezuela and raised there and in the United States, Intelsat offered a special opportunity. “At Intelsat, we touch every aspect of people’s lives, and I was thrilled at being part of such a high-tech industry,” she said. “To know that when I was watching the World Cup on TV, this was via our customers using our satellites. Or when you log on to a laptop, the Internet connection comes from our satellites.”
Joseph A. Mann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.
Business: Intelsat is the world’s largest provider of commercial satellite services, operating a fleet of more than 50 fixed (geosynchronous) satellites that covers over 99 percent of the world’s populated regions. Satellites are built to meet the needs of customers, including media companies, fixed and wireless telecommunications operators, multinational companies, firms providing mobile applications for aircraft and ships, ISPs and the U.S. government. Intelsat’s regional office in Coral Gables oversees sales in Latin America and the Caribbean, an area covered by 14 Intelsat satellites.
Headquarters: Corporate HQ: Luxembourg; administrative HQ: McLean, Virginia.
Latin America and Caribbean regional office: One Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables.
Founded: Intelsat was founded 50 years ago; Coral Gables office was set up in the early 1990s.
Regional vice president for Latin America and Caribbean sales: Carmen González-Sanfeliu.
Regional clients: More than 300, including HBO Latin America; América Movil; Telefónica; Televisa, Globosat and DirecTVLatin America.
Employees: 1,100 worldwide; 24 in Coral Gables and six in Mexico and Brazil.
Ownership: Publicly traded (NYSE trading symbol: I).
Revenue: $2.6 billion worldwide in 2013.