SES expands viewing number to 276 million homes worldwide

Satellite Services (SES), a world-leading satellite operator that delivers reliable and secure satellite communications solutions, is happy to announce that the company has dramatically boosted its reach by 17 million in 2012. Now, SES reaches 276 million homes worldwide.

The distinct growth is attributed to the increase in reach in Germany and India. SES in India witnessed a year-on-year gain of 7.5 million homes. Thanks to the high demand for two DTH platforms, Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV, they can now reach 25 million homes with SES satellites. The SES capacity in India is contracted through the Indian Space Research organization. The DTH market of India is steadily growing, with an average increase of more than 800,000 subscribers a month last year.

Europe now has an increased reach of 17%, with 85 million households receiving their signal from  satellites. Particularly, Germany contributed to this increase through the switch-off of the analogue satellite signals and the success of HD platform HD+.

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Inmarsat to introduce L-TAC L-band service for government users

British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat made a recent announcement that the company will be extending its mobile tactical Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) communications to a wider range of new government users by taking advantage of the capabilities of Inmarsat’s L-band satellites.

The company is planning to launch L-TAC — a new L-band service aiming to provide ‘UHF-like’ tactical satellite capability for use with existing UHF tactical radios for approved government customers at a competitive price. The capability of the UHF tactical satellite is of high demand by government customers due to its suitability to create Beyond-Line-of-Sight, Push-to-Talk networks via tactical radios — either man portable or integrated in vehicles, helicopters, ships or other mobile platforms.

Inmarsat’s new service will help complement and expand the existing UHF tactical capacity of the company by using its Inmarsat-4 constellation of satellites. The constellations delivers this capability all over the world, at the same time supporting small antennas for BLOS communications on the move.

The British company also collaborated with Spectra Group to develop the Slingshot adaptor — a small antenna that takes the place of the existing UHF antenna on existing tactical military radios. Along with Slingshot, the L-TAC leased service of Inmarsat will enable users to lease the service for a fixed period of time, as short as one month.

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ArabSat acquires Greek operator Hellas Sat, expands services in Europe

ArabSat, the leading communications satellite operator in the Middle East, expanded its business partnership with South Eastern Europe telecom group, Hellenic Telecommunication Organization, by purchasing its 99.05 percent equity participation in Hellas-Sat Consortium for 208 million euros. The remaining 0.95 percent share is held by the operation’s original founders.

The deal, scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2013, was signed upon an aggregate consideration of 208 million euros which represents the 99.05 percent of Hellas-Sat’s enterprise value. It also correlates to seven times the EBITDA of Hellas Sat for the year 2012, as well as the cash held by Hellas-Sat on the completion date of the agreement.

With this new development, Arabsat now has the exclusive access to the 39 degrees East orbital position, 30 active transponders on HellasSat-2, and all associated radio frequencies from the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus. The satellite is said to have an expected lifespan of 15 years, which suggests that it will need to be replaced in the next four to five years.

Khalid A. Balkheyour, ArabSat’s President and CEO noted, “This step outlines Arabsat’s determination to pursue its strategic plan to grow its resources in terms of expanding to new orbital slots and new frequency rights, and to enter new markets. In 2012, Arabsat has presented before the satellite industry its vision to move from regional to global and become one of the top 5 satellite operators in the world by the year 2020. This transaction, in addition to the new 6th  satellite generation program encompassing the design, manufacturing and launch of 3 new satellites from now until 2016 proves that Arabsat is on the right track to achieve its vision.”

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IDT, CoBank offer new satellite leasing program for rural water utilities

Informational Data Technologies (IDT), a leading provider of satellite AMR/AMI management systems for rural utilities, recently collaborated with CoBank to launch a program that will offer leasing for the IDT Harmony Water Management System.

The program’s goal is to provide a satellite Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) / Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system for qualifying rural water utilities. CoBank — a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit System associations — will offer lease programs with durations of five, six, seven, eight and ten years, plus different buyout terms at the end of the lease. As such, the program will give new options for rural water utilities wishing to deploy a satellite AMR/AMI system, but are worried about capital outlays and speed to system deployment.

Expressing his gratitude, IDT Executive Vice President Angelo Polsinelli said in a statement: “We are pleased that CoBank has recognized the value of the IDT Harmony system to its customers, offering to help utilities deploy the latest technology through an affordable and straightforward leasing program.

Polsinelli went on, saying, “The IDT Harmony Water Management System is an ideal way for rural water utilities to reduce operational costs through water loss detection and other features, while improving collections through daily meter reads. Now, utilities can gain those advantages quickly, and with minimal cost outlay, thanks to the CoBank leasing program.”

Arabsat’s 6th generation satellite to be launched by Arianespace, Astrium, Thales Alenia Space

Three major companies – Arianespace, Astrium and Thales Alenia Space — have inked a new deal for the production and launch of Arabsat’s first 6th generation satellite, Arabsat-6B.

French Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Lohieddin Khoja were at the signing ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The next-generation satellite will be built by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space as part of a turnkey contract with the Saudi Arabian satcom operator, Arabsat. Thales Alenia Space will provide the payload, while Astrium will supply the Eurostar E3000 platform and will be responsible for satellite integration.

Offering a design life of more than 15 years, Arabsat-6B will weigh approximately 6,100 kg at launch. It will provide telecommunications and TV broadcasting services for the Middle East and Africa.

Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall released a statement regarding the new business partnership with Arabsat, saying: “We are especially proud to be working once again with Arabsat, a very prestigious customer with whom we have maintained favored relations since the launch of Arabsat-1A in 1985. I would also like to thank Astrium and Thales Alenia Space for once again placing their trust in us, within the scope of this new turnkey contract.”

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New Proton Rocket Launch Failure to be Investigated by Russia, ILS

The International Launch Services launched the Russian Proton heavy-lift rocket on December 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but it unfortunately failed, delivering Yamal 402 — Gazprom Space System’s telecommunication satellite — into a lower orbit than what is desired. Such incident marks the third failure of the rocket in 16 months.

Engineered by Thales Alenia Space, the Yamal 402 satellite has the capability to boost itself into a greater position, but due to the recent failure of the rocket, it will most likely mean that its operational life will be significantly reduced.

This failure is said to threaten the upcoming launch of the next Satelites Mexicanos launch, which was originally scheduled on December 28. The Satmex 5 satellite, which is anticipated to run out of fuel in May, would be replaced by the Satmex 8. In case the launch of Satmex 8 is late, the customers of Satmex’s might turn to other providers, which will put to danger the already-fragile financial situation of the company.

The ILS said that both a Russian government inquiry board and an independent ILS board will conduct an investigation regarding the rocket launch failure.

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Demand for satellite communications in Asia-Pacific will remain strong

Leading satellite communications company Arianespace said that the demand for satcom services will remain strong in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Australia, where it has been doing business since 1987. The Europe-based commercial space transportation company said that business down under has been successful, as it enjoys a 100% success rate in launches, and recently has been working with one of Australia’s leading mobile operators, Optus.

Aside from telecom companies, Arianespace is also in partnership with the Australian satellite specialist NewSat for the Jabiru Satellite Program – a fleet of high-powered Ka band satellites that will deliver increased capacity in select regions across the globe. The first bird, the Jabiru 1, is already slated for a 2014 launch, and NewSat is looking forward to start the commercial operations of the vessel for internet by satellite services, voice and data communications, wireless backhauling solutions, and an array of other VSAT services.

Currently, Australia is looking to roll out its NBN project although many rural areas will be cut-off from the fibre network footprint. NewSat and Arianespace is hoping to target the rural clients through satellite broadband services. The French company also said that Australia continues to be a crucial part of their Asia-Pacific strategy. They’re also looking into promoting green technology by reducing the space debris from satellites being launched into orbit.

However, Arianespace also admitted that it’s been left out the equally lucrative Chinese market, which bans satellites using US components.

Washington state to be serviced with satellite broadband

The state of Washington will start receiving satellite internet services courtesy of Frontier Communications, on of the leading provider of broadband services to rural clients in America. According to the company, it has partnered with Hughes Network Systems to leverage the JUPITER™ High-Throughput Technology for satellite broadband solutions to rural markets in Washington’s northwest.

Frontier Communications’ Senior Vice President and General Manager for Oregon and Washington, Rich Klena, said that the exciting development will help rural areas across the state cut of from traditional terrestrial networks like fibre optic cables, to enjoy the benefits of high-speed broadband access that will also increase commerce, deliver information and entertainment programs and applications, as well as provide platforms for solutions such as telehealth and distance learning.

Price for the service depends on the speed rates chosen but according to reports, internet from satellite via Frontier Communications will most likely cost between $52 to $146. The Stamford-based company is looking to expand its broadband services as part of its commitment to customers.

Space Systems/Loral to design Next-generation Military Satellite Communications for US Air Force

SS/L has been chosen to design and develop the next generation of Protected Military SatCom for the US Air Force. According to the Palo Alto-based satellite manufacturer, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center issues the contract for the development of design concepts.

The focus of the partnership is on cost-effective solutions. The Space and Missile Systems Center or SMC is more cost-conscious and is working with SS/L to develop practical technologies that would secure and protect high-security communications systems in place.

SS/L will be working with industry partners in this project to combine efforts in the development of innovative technologies with existing military solutions. According to the company, they will be working on both the space and ground-segments of the project.

John Celi, President of SS/L said that they will be, “Working with our industry partners, we will use domain expertise, proven military technology, and our supply chain efficiencies to quickly bring increased capability to the warfighter.”

SS/L was initially a manufacturing subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications but last Friday it was announced by Dettwiler and Associates of Canada they have acquired the California-based company.

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Network-ready satellite terminal introduced by ViaSat

One of the world leaders in network services and products, ViaSat, has introduced the VMT-1220P: a lightweight, portable satellite terminal that is ready to connect to a worldwide broadband network. Featuring an auto-acquiring antenna that can send and receive full-motion video files, ViaSat’s satellite broadband terminal comes in a 16x16x24-inch frame which can easily be house in a ballistic bag for transport and shipment.

The new device was proudly introduced at the AUSA 2012. The VMT-1220P’s mobility and network-ready features makes it an ideal solution for military operations working in remote regions of conflict. Set-up can easily be done with the user-friendly interface, and soldiers can utilize the terminal to access classified networks across the globe, as well as make phone calls.

According to Larry Taylor, Vice President of ViaSat Alpha Innovations Team, the VMT-1220P offers high-performing connectivity that could easily access broadband networks without compromising the quality of the services.

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Middle East to enjoy Ka band services from Hughes Europe and Bentley Walker