Regional Roundup: June 2016

Top satellite industry news from around the world

SpeedCast, MCN to Create Global Maritime VSAT Service

SpeedCast International and Beijing Marine Communications and Navigation (MCN), a subsidiary of the China Transport Telecommunications & Information Centre (CTTIC), have signed a MOU through which they will form a strategic partnership for worldwide maritime coverage. The companies plan to integrate MCN’s VSAT network in the Asia Pacific with SpeedCast’s global VSAT networks to provide global connectivity.

This partnership is expected to provide seamless connectivity for both MCN and SpeedCast customers wherever they are, as well as to provide a wide portfolio of applications enhancing productivity, crew welfare and safety. SpeedCast will assist MCN in expanding its infrastructure to provide service coverage in the South China Sea, which will be integrated to SpeedCast’s global network. MCN will also be able to leverage SpeedCast’s network of field engineers located in key ports around the world.

DishTV and ALi Corp. Partner to Expand DTH in India

ALi Corporation, a Set-Top Box (STB) chipset provider, and DishTV, Asia’s largest DTH operator, have entered a strategic partnership to enhance existing DTH operations and target future expansion opportunities. The partnership aims to provide a high-performance and cost-effective STB solution with next-generation security tailored specifically for the India market. Through this partnership, DishTV plans to expand its market share and increase revenue streams.

Photo: DishTV India

India’s DTH pay-TV sector remains a growth-oriented industry. Media Partners Asia forecasts that this sector will generate revenues of $4.04 billion by 2018 and $5.6 billion by 2023 in the country. The DTH active subscriber base will increase to 60 million by 2018 and 70 million by 2023.

Measat Broadcasting TERN International in Ultra-HD

Measat Satellite Systems has reached an agreement with Television Entertainment Reality Network International (TERN International) to distribute the Insight UHD channel. The operator will use the global beam on Measat 3a to deliver the channel to pay-TV operators across Asia Pacific and Australia. The Measat 3a global beam also covers the Middle East and Eastern Africa. This is the second Ultra-HD channel distributed via the 91.5 degrees east video neighborhood.

RigNet Australia Taps Optus for Capacity, Teleport Services

RigNet Australia has entered a wholesale partnership with Optus Satellite to leverage satellite capacity and infrastructure to serve the oil and gas industry in the Australasia region. Through this agreement, RigNet will establish a presence and assets at Optus Satellite’s east and west coast earth stations. Optus’ Synchronized Digital Hierarchy (SDH) fiber network connects the operator’s Lockridge and Oxford Falls teleports, ensuring redundancy for RigNet services.

Photo: RigNet

“RigNet has been securing contracts across the region and will require more capacity domestically. So while they will continue to use their own capacity, this partnership also allows access to capacity from our Optus Satellite fleet and our partners,” said Paul Sheridan, vice president of Optus Satellite.

Forever Group Myanmar Adds Five Transponders from Thaicom

DTH operator and media company Forever Group Myanmar has entered a long-term contract with Thaicom for five additional transponders.

The company currently uses three Thaicom transponders. Forever Group intends to use the satellite capacity to further the development of digital content delivery services and HD television in Myanmar.

Intelsat to Distribute BBC World News Across Four Satellites and IntelsatOne

BBC World News, a leading global news TV channel, has renewed and expanded its contract with Intelsat to use multiple video neighborhoods and the IntelsatOne terrestrial network for the distribution of SD and HD content across several continents. Under the multi-year agreement, BBC World News will be delivered to millions of viewers in the Americas and Asia from Intelsat’s Galaxy 13, Intelsat 19, Intelsat 20 and Intelsat 21 satellites.

Intelsat’s Galaxy 13 satellite at 127 degrees west will reach cable distribution neighborhoods in North America, and Intelsat 21 at 302 degrees east will reach a Latin American cable distribution neighborhood with the highest cable head-end penetration on the continent.

The satellite Intelsat 19 at 166 degrees east will reach a Pacific Rim cable distribution neighborhood and South Pacific DTH platform, while Intelsat 20 at 68.5 degrees east will distribute the BBC World News to a cable, DTH and transcontinental hotspot from Europe to East Asia and India.

SES Launches Satlas Business Incubator for SatComms

SES has kicked off a new business incubator called Satlas, which aims to turn pioneering ideas from a variety of fields, including e-learning, energy, financial technology (fintech), resource management, smart cities, media, logistics, and many others, into successful satcom applications.

Photo: SES

Satlas will support entrepreneurs with ideas about Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services that could benefit from satellite communications. According to SES, backing will support design, development and testing of entrepreneur’s products with both business and technical resources. The ultimate aim is that these ideas become viable satcom solutions.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems 3 (ARTES 3) – 4 satcom –apps program is co-funding Satlas.

Eutelsat to Power Russian Broadband with Gilat Tech

Eutelsat has selected a SkyEdge 2-c hub with X-Architecture and SkyEdge 2-c small user terminals from Gilat to deliver broadband services in Western Russia. Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) will host the hub at its Dubna satellite center near Moscow.

The Gilat equipment will power a new range of broadband services in Western Russia.

Proton Rocket Reaches 20 Year Anniversary of Commercial Service

Russia’s Proton rocket, produced today by Khrunichev Space Center has marked its 20th year since commercial introduction. Proton entered the global commercial launch services market April 9, 1996 with the successful launch of the Astra 1F telecommunications satellite on a Proton K.

A Proton rocket.Photo: Roscosmos

Salyut Design Bureau, designer of the Proton launch vehicle, and Khrunichev Machine-Building Plant, manufacturer of Proton, merged following a presidential decree from the Russian government in 1993, forming Khrunichev Space Center. That same year Khrunichev Space Center, RSC Energia and Lockheed Corporation established Lockheed-Khrunichev-Energia (LKE), a joint venture tasked with marketing Proton launch services.

SSC Launches SmallSat Ground Segment Solution

Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has unveiled SSC Infinity, the company’s new ground operations service designed for small satellites and constellations. SSC Infinity consists of a range of highly automated services that use full-motion antennas in the 5-meter or smaller class. The antennas are optimized for communication with small satellites and constellations, and can be augmented with larger antennas when needed.

To support CubeSats, SSC Infinity makes use of normal configurations and standardized ground system hardware.

Eutelsat Americas Sells Alterna’TV to Canal+ Group

Eutelsat Americas has sold Alterna’TV, a Miami-based content distribution company, to Thema, a subsidiary of Canal+ Group for an undisclosed amount. As part of the transaction, Canal+ Group also established a long-term capacity agreement on the Eutelsat 113 West A and Eutelsat 117 West A satellites.

Alterna’TV is a content distribution platform that provides principally Latin American channels to cable and Internet TV operators in the United States. The platform currently reaches more than 10 million subscribers across the Americas. Thema is active in five continents with a portfolio of more than 100 channels distributed through international pay-TV platforms.

“The acquisition of Alterna’TV marks a new step in our partnership with Eutelsat with whom we have been working since our creation. It will allow us to scale up our presence in North and Latin America and will reinforce our team and the portfolio of channels we offer pay-TV operators in these markets. It will complement the platform we already operate in Canada with Terra Terra,” said François Thiellet, CEO of Thema.

RR Media Opens Regional Media Center for Latin America

Israel-based RR Media is opening a new regional Latin America-focused media center based in Miami, Fla. The center will serve content to millions of Hispanic and Portuguese viewers across Latin America, as well as audiences in the United States and Canada.

According to RR Media, the new center’s production facility has more than 95,000 square feet, a playout center and Master Control Suites (MCRs) for channel origination, complementing the company’s existing U.S. East Coast facility.

RR Media’s LATAM media center.Photo: RR Media

RR Media’s LATAM media center enables access to the company’s full range content preparation, management, playout and delivery services, with diverse, localized content. Services include local ads insertion, multi-format playout and remote uplink to RR Media’s smart global network. More than a dozen channels are already being played out of the Miami Center.

Hispasat Expands Atresmedia Internacional HD Broadcasts

Hispasat, in collaboration with Cellnex Telecom, has expanded the number of Atresmedia television channels it distributes across the Americas through its Hispasat 30W-5 satellite. In addition to the channel Antena 3 Internacional, which Hispasat has broadcast since 2002 in SD, the operator will now broadcast the channels Hola TV and Atreseries Internacional. These three channels are distributed in HD format. Cellnex Telecom is responsible for receiving the three Atresmedia Internacional signals, as well as the satellite uplink.

Entel Extends Connectivity in Bolivia and Easter Island

Entel Bolivia has selected Hughes Network Systems’ Jupiter system as the platform for a new high-availability satellite broadband network to extend cellular and Internet access in remote areas. Under the terms of the agreement, Hughes will provide a Jupiter system gateway and approximately 550 terminals to power Entel’s delivery of Internet access service in remote areas and for satellite backhaul of 3G and 4G LTE cellular base stations. The services will operate in the Ku-band satellite spectrum over the Túpac Katari 1 satellite.

Easter Island statues.Photo: Business Wire

Additionally, Entel has deployed O3b Networks’ O3bTrunk solution enabling 3G and LTE services to Easter Island, as well as broadband Internet access for customers.

Inmarsat Performs Live GX Broadcast from Rio de Janeiro

Inmarsat has performed its first transcontinental live demonstration of Global Xpress (GX) broadcast capabilities during the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nev. Following the launch of its Global Xpress service for broadcasters in the last few weeks, and combined with a portfolio of L-band newsgathering solutions, Inmarsat will deliver enhanced, tailored solutions for mobile journalists, broadcasters and content creators, in conjunction with its channel partners and third party software and service providers.

Spacecom and Encompass To Create New European TV Distribution Platform

Spacecom, operator of the Amos satellite fleet, and Encompass Digital Media, announced a new joint European TV distribution platform. The joint service will be distributed throughout the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region over the Amos 6 satellite’s Ku Pan-European beam from its 4 degrees west orbital position.

Encompass and Spacecom’s shared initiative will provide channels and other content providers with a comprehensive solution for all playout, uplink and European space segments, for a full range of media distribution services over the satellite. Spacecom has partnered with Satellite Mediaport Services, located in Rugby, U.K., to provide uplink services for the platform.

Amos 6 is scheduled to launch during the third quarter of this year. The satellite has 39 Ku-band segments and 24 Ka-band beams and will be larger than Amos 2 and Amos 3 combined. Amos 6 will incorporate new technologies such as High Throughput Ka-band spot beams for improved broadband Internet access, covering Europe and Africa; as well as Ku-band technologies for new and existing clients.

Etisalat UAE CEO Joins Thuraya Board of Directors as Chairman

Thuraya has elected Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO of Etisalat UAE, to become chairman of the company’s board of directors. Al Abdooli has served as CEO of Etisalat UAE since 2012, and is also the deputy chairman of the board of directors, chairman of the executive committee for Etisalat Misr, and a board member for Etisalat Services Holding Company. Furthermore, he recently became Etisalat’s representative on the Mobily board of directors.

Saleh Al Abdooli.Photo: Thuraya

Al Abdooli designed and launched the first 3G network in the Middle East and Africa, in December 2003. He has been associated with the Etisalat Group since 1992, where he has played an important role in creating technological integration strategies as well as corporate and global expansion investments.

Effective Space Solutions Secures Letter of Intent for 2018 In-Orbit Servicing Mission

Arie Halsband, CEO and founder of in-orbit satellite servicing company Effective Space Solutions, believes that in the last year alone the satellite market has grown more responsive to contracting for these kind of services. Proof is in the company’s first Letter of Intent (LOI) to deliver in-orbit services via microsatellites, which will operate out of a docking station of the company’s own design.

SES Deploys Satmed at Children’s Hospital in Niger

SES is deploying Satmed, a satellite-based e-health platform, at the Cure Hospital for Children in Niger, to enhance healthcare in rural and remote regions in Niger. Satmed will enable the hospital to establish communications with national and international doctors to receive medical counseling. Using satellite, experts can remotely diagnose patients from thousands of miles away, doctors and nurses can improve their knowledge through online courses or life sessions, and lives can be saved through easy access to necessary information available anywhere via the Internet.

Satmed in Niger.Photo: SES

Orbcomm Moves to Acquire South African IoT Company

Orbcomm has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Skygistics, a provider of satellite and cellular connectivity, as well as telematics solutions, based outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Skygistics has more than 250 telematics and enterprise customers, and will add distribution for Orbcomm products in some of the fastest growing markets for the Internet of Things (IoT), including South Africa and 22 other African nations.

OneWeb Satellites Picks Florida Site for Manufacturing Plant

OneWeb Satellites has chosen Florida in the United States as the location for the company’s final assembly line for the mass production of nearly 900 satellites for the OneWeb constellation. The facility will be located at Florida’s Exploration Park, near the Kennedy Space Center, covering an area of more than 100,000 square feet and creating an anticipated 250 direct jobs, approximately.

OneWeb Satellites is an equally owned joint venture set up between Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb in January. Airbus Defence and Space is OneWeb’s industrial partner for the design and build of its satellites. The constellation, to be operated by OneWeb, is for global high-speed Internet services. OneWeb’s space segment will comprise an initial constellation of 648 operational satellites and replacement satellites, all of which will be identical. Each satellite will weigh approximately 150 kg and will operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Arianespace and Virgin Galactic will begin launching the spacecraft in 2018 and the satellites will be placed in orbit using electrical propulsion.

Airbus Defence and Space is currently designing the OneWeb spacecraft at its design offices in Toulouse, France.

Ultra-HD Forum Issues First Industry Guidelines

The Ultra-HD Forum, a global organization defining industry best practices for technologies to enable Ultra-HD, has released its first phase of industry guidelines on end-to-end workflows for creating and delivering live and pre-recorded Ultra-HD content.

A Sony 4K camera.Photo: Sony

This first release of the guidelines lets the Ultra-HD Forum’s growing membership of 46 organizations target deployments in 2016. The guidelines address both technical and commercial challenges such as production, distribution and consumer decoding of Ultra-HD programing with both Standard and High Dynamic Range (SDR and HDR) content. They take into account the production workflow in the face of challenging backward compatibility constraints. The Ultra-HD Forum plans another release targeting 2017 and beyond.

AT&T Teams with Globecomm for Satellite IoT

AT&T has partnered with Globecomm to launch a new service that combines satellite and cellular connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). Through the agreement, AT&T’s IoT customers can operate on cellular when a signal is available, and then automatically switch to satellite when cell service is unavailable. The combined services enable greater coverage for remote and isolated assets.

“Businesses want more real-time visibility into their assets on a global scale,” said Jon Kirchner, SVP of products and corporate strategy at Globecomm.

Intelsat Announces Five-Year In-Orbit Servicing Agreement with Orbital ATK

Intelsat and Orbital ATK have announced a new satellite life extension service agreement where Orbital ATK will extend the life of an Intelsat satellite by five years using the company’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV).

Artist’s rendition of ViviSat’s MEV with a satellite.Photo: Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK will manufacture, test and launch the first Mission Extension Vehicle, MEV 1, based on the GEOStar platform, and will conduct in-orbit testing to validate the spacecraft. Launch is currently slated for 2018, with mission extension service for Intelsat beginning in 2019.

Bezos Says Blue Origin Will Not Make Satellites

Blue Origin will not make satellites, though the company’s orbital vehicle will be available to launch such spacecraft, founder Jeff Bezos said in April at the 32nd Space Symposium.

Bezos said Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine will be the company’s contribution to national security space. United Launch Alliance (ULA), the Lockheed Martin and Boeing joint venture, is planning to use the BE-4 on its next generation Vulcan launch system.

Bezos said the company currently has that orbital vehicle in development. Blue Origin’s New Shepard, which recently achieved its third launch and landing, is a suborbital vehicle and uses the BE-3 engine. VS

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