Via Satellite

Regional Roundup: October/November 2015

Top satellite industry news from around the world.

Skynet 5A Satellite Arrives at Asia-Pacific Orbital Slot

Airbus Defence and Space’s Skynet 5A satellite has completed its 67,000km relocation from 6 degrees east to 95 degrees east, the company announced Sept. 15. Skynet 5A began its transition on June 17. Airbus Defence and Space moved the satellite to extend Skynet constellation’s coverage and services from 178 degrees west to 163 degrees east, including the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific region. With the transition now complete, the Skynet network offers near-global military X-band and Ultra High-Frequency (UHF) coverage, expanding core service reach for the U.K. military and augmenting coalition capabilities in the region.

Airbus Defence and Space owns and operates the hardened Skynet X-band satellite constellation of eight satellites and the ground network to provide all Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications to the U.K. Ministry of Defence and allied governments,

Thaicom Selects New CEO, Begins Plan for Succession

Paiboon Panuwattanawong, next Thaicom CEO.Thaicom

Thaicom has appointed Paiboon Panuwattanawong to take up the roles of CEO and authorized director of Thaicom starting Oct. 1. Current CEO Suphajee Suthumpun will assume the role of advisor to the CEO, to support Panuwattanawong during the leadership transition period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

During the past few years, Thaicom has been implementing a succession plan in order to ensure business continuity. Panuwattanawong has been with Thaicom for 23 years, and has been the company’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) for the past six years.

ST Teleport, AsiaSat Expand Partnership to VSAT and Media

ST Teleport, a full-service satellite and fiber communications solutions provider, and AsiaSat have bolstered a preexisting partnership to enhance service offerings to the VSAT and media sectors.

ST Teleport recently set up a dedicated antenna for AsiaSat 4 to expand its C-band capacity in Asia for maritime, oil and gas, enterprise, and media businesses. Citing strong user demand for data and video services in Asia, both companies have strengthened their collaboration to offer enhanced land, air and sea-based VSAT services. ST Teleport’s is now also capable of connecting to AsiaSat’s fleet of satellites.

Chinese Small Satellite Launcher Complete First Mission

China’s maiden flight of the Long March 6.Xinhua

China’s Xinhua News Agency has reported the successful launch of the Long March 6 rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province. The new carrier rocket, designed mainly for the launch of micro-satellites, orbited 20-such spacecraft during the mission. Xinhua said the satellites will be used for space tests.

The launch tested the feasibility and accuracy of the rocket’s design, along with other new technologies. The Long March 6 uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as propellants, and is the country’s first carrier rocket to use fuel free of pollutants.

Measat Launches Ultra-HD Channel Fashion One 4K on Measat 3a

Long-term Measat customer Fashion One Television has officially launched an Ultra-HD channel through the operator’s Measat 3a satellite. According to the companies, the channel is the first English language Ultra-HD channel in the world.

Fashion One owns an extensive library of Ultra-HD content with 100 percent content rights thanks to a production upgrade that began in 2014. The Fashion One 4K channel carries the latest fashion and entertainment content, such as new seasons of the active lifestyle series Model Yoga, the global culinary adventures of Fashion On A Plate, and the sustainable fashion docu-series Eco Fash.

Hispasat Signs Deals with SpaceX and ILS

Spanish satellite operator Hispasat has reached launch agreements with International Launch Services (ILS) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to launch its Hispasat 1F and Amazonas 5 satellites. ILS will conduct a launch with the Proton rocket, and SpaceX will use the Falcon 9 vehicle. Which company will launch which satellite has not been released.

Hispasat 1F is to replace Hispasat 1D at 30 degrees west, providing additional Ku-band capacity for the Andes and Brazil, as well as transatlantic capacity for connectivity between Europe and America, and Ka-band capacity over Europe. Amazonas 5 will be located at 61 degrees west to meet demand stemming predominantly from satellite television platforms in Latin America and Brazil. The satellite will also support Ka-band Internet connectivity services. Space Systems/Loral (SSL) is building both satellites on its 1300 platforma.

ILS last launched a satellite for Hispasat in 2004, which was the first Amazonas satellite, Amazonas 1. The recently announced deal is Hispasat’s first launch with SpaceX. Both missions are slated for 2017.

Inmarsat, Deutsche Telekom Team up on Europea Aviation Network

Executives from Inmarsat, Deutsche Telekom and Lufthansa at the European Aviation Network announcement.Inmarsat

Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom have formed a strategic partnership to develop a hybrid terrestrial-satellite In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) system called the European Aviation Network. The system will employ 300 LTE sites across Europe combined with a new S-band satellite from Inmarsat.

Last year Inmarsat announced a joint satellite with HellasSat, with its half called Europasat, that will use the company’s 30 MHz of S-band spectrum allocation across the European Union (EU). The LTE sites will have a range of more than 80 km, compared to the 10 km or less range of conventional LTE sites. Once an aircraft has reached 10,000ft, Deutsche Telekom’s Air-to-Ground (ATG) network will be combined with satellite connectivity.

Avanti, Global Invacom Demo Encrypted Satellite TV Over Ka-band IP Networks

Avanti Communications and Global Invacom, in partnership with Microsoft and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program, are demonstrating satellite broadcasting using standard IP-enabled networks such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi. The home platform uses the SAT>IP protocol to offer up to eight live streaming channels and satellite multicast push VoD services with the option of integrating multiple satellite sources.

ESA, CNES, Thales Alenia Space Jumpstart Neosat Project

Magali Vassiere from ESA, and Bertrand Maureau from Thales Alenia Space, signing the Neosat C/D phase contract.ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA), the French space agency CNES, and Thales Alenia Space have signed the C/D phase contract for Neosat, enabling the full development and qualification of the next generation satellite platform product line, Spacebus Neo. ESA and CNES are jointly managing the Neosat program, which aims to create 3 to 6 ton telecommunications satellites.

The goal is to reduce the cost of a satellite in orbit by 30 percent compared with today’s designs by the end of the decade, and for European satellite builders to capture at least half of the world’s satcom market in the years to come.

SES Launches Ultra-HD Channel for TERN

TV Entertainment Reality Network (TERN), a Netherlands-based company, has contracted capacity from SES under a long-term agreement for a new Free-to-Air (FTA) channel, which will start to air in October in both HD and Ultra-HD quality. The new channel will be exclusively available via satellite in Europe on Astra at 19.2 degrees east.

“2015 is the year in which Ultra HD has become a reality for TV viewers in Europe, and we are pleased that the first three Ultra-HD channels in Europe are broadcast via SES satellites,” said Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer at SES.

CITEL Proposes Allocating Portion of C-band for IMT

ITU Region 2 member countries have decided to submit an Inter-American Proposal (IAP) to the ITU that favors allocating a portion of the C-band spectrum to the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) industry. The decision occurred during the final Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) meeting in Ottawa, held from Aug. 17 to 21, where countries from North America, South America and the Caribbean met to prepare for the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in November.

“In the case of agenda item 1.1, considering C-band, CITEL decided to propose the identification for IMT of the segment 3400 to 3600 MHz and keep without changes the segment 3600-4200 MHz, Hector Bude, chair of the CITEL Working Group on Preparations for Regional and World Radiocommunication Conferences, told Via Satellite. “The identification for IMT of the lower part of the band obtained the support of more than 10 countries, and around 15 countries supported the no change position of the upper part.”

C-band, which consists of 3.4 to 4.2 GHz, is used by the satellite industry for a myriad of services and is favored for its robustness compared to other spectrum.

Intelsat 11 Expands Brazil’s TV Cultura Across Country, Opens Door to Americas, Europe

TV Cultura

TV Cultura, a part of The Padre Anchieta Foundation, has signed a new contract with Intelsat to enhance its Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) offering in Brazil and to position the company to distribute its programming internationally. On Intelsat 11, TV Cultura will expand its presence in Brazil, and is positioned to expand its content distribution to other parts of South America, North America and into Europe.

Under the agreement, TV Cultura, will leverage C-band capacity on Intelsat 11 at 317 degrees east to distribute content to its approximately 300 terrestrial towers for DTT services, as well as to pay-TV operators nationwide. TV Cultura is present in 21 Brazilian states, reaching almost 120 millions people across the country. The broadcaster produces and distributes documentaries, interviews, musicals, children’s programs, dramaturgy and news.

Northgate Capital Takes Majority Stake in Elara Comunicaciones

Global private equity fund manager Northgate Capital has acquired a majority stake in Elara Comunicaciones through a transaction in which Northgate will invest up to $38 million in both primary and secondary transactions. According to Elara, the investment will help further develop the company’s product portfolio and execute its expansion plan.

Elara has several initiatives underway to grow its operations in Mexico and across Latin America.

Artist’s rendition of Eutelsat 115 West B.Eutelsat

Eutelsat Americas Clinches Axesat Capacity Deal

Axesat, a top enterprise connectivity provider in Latin America, has signed a multi-year, multi-transponder agreement with Eutelsat Americas to provide corporate services in South America. Axesat will use capacity from two Eutelsat satellites: Eutelsat 115 West B will connect Axesat customers in energy, agricultural, financial, educational, and government sectors; and Eutelsat 113 West A will provide corporate connectivity solutions in Mexico for banking and retail industries.

Eutelsat 115 West B is the first all-electric satellite in Eutelsat’s fleet. The spacecraft launched in March 2015 and is expected to enter service next month.

General Dynamics Wins Order for Simultaneous Ku and DBS Earth Station

General Dynamics Satcom Technologies has received a contract from Pascom, a satellite communications integrator in Chile, for an advanced Earth station antenna reflector and communications signal feed design that both transmits and receives Ku- and Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS)-band communications simultaneously. The Earth station comprises a 9-meter antenna and a six-port feed.

Thuraya Launches Two New SatSleeve Products

Thuraya Telecommunications has released a new generation of SatSleeve models, the SatSleeve+ and the SatSleeve Hotspot. The SatSleeve+ features a new voice routing system that improves on sound quality, and can be used with a wider range of smartphone models than before. The device comes with a universal smartphone adaptor to reach a larger number of smartphone owners than was previously possible. The adaptor also allows users to switch between handsets, so owners of more than one smartphone do not need to buy additional kit.

The SatSleeve Hotspot creates a portable satellite Wi-Fi hotspot, giving people connectivity without physically docking their smartphone to a unit, and freedom to move indoors. A SatSleeve Hotspot user can leave the stand outside, stay indoors or in their vehicle, and use their smartphone in satellite mode inside.

Both models enable users to make calls, use messaging applications, update social networks, send and receive email and SMS, and access apps. They also come with a programmable SOS button that works even if no smartphone is connected.

Turksat Selects Arris’ E6000 CER for Futur Broadband Services

Artist’s rendition of Turksat 6ATurksat

Turksat has selected Arris Group’s E6000 Converged Edge Router (CER) to prepare for future IP interactivity and higher speed broadband services. The router will support today’s Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) requirements as well as the company’s transition to a Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP). Turksat will be able to reach broadband speeds of up to 500Mbps and 1 Gbps while future-proofing its headend for service expansion.

Turksat manages and operates three satellites — Turksat 2A, Turksat 3A, and Turksat 4A— and has its next satellite, Turksat 4B, slated to launch on a Proton rocket in October. The company provides cable and wireless broadcasting, high-speed Internet, and DTH broadcasting services. Additional satellites are planned for integration into the operator’s growing satellite fleet.

Intelsat to Reinforce an Extend Broadband Services in Mozambique

Mozambique telco, Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicacoes de Mocambique, has renewed its relationship with Intelsat for satellite solutions that will help the company deliver broadband connectivity to corporate networks and provide cellular backhaul services to support residents in remote areas of the country.

For a country that is susceptible to heavy rainfall and flooding, C-band spectrum is useful given its known performance and durability in adverse weather conditions.

Hellas Sat Selects Newtec to Power New DTH Earth Station

Hellas Sat’s teleport in Cyprus.Hellas Sat

Hellas Sat, a subsidiary of Arabsat, has selected Newtec to power a new multimillion euro DTH Earth station. Located in Cyprus, the Earth station will broadcast up to 70 TV channels, 10 percent of which will be delivered in High Definition (HD).

Newtec will be the prime contractor, designer and integrator of the entire DTH Earth station. The company will also provide its Newtec M6100 broadcast satellite modulators among other Newtec equipment, Ericsson TV encoding and multiplexing equipment, two 7.6m antennas, and an umbrella network management system.

Most of the content will be received via different Television Receive-Only (TVROs) satellite dishes and all content will be transcoded and re-multiplexed into different bouquets.

Fibersat Signs Hosted Payload Deal with Arabsat

Burgeoning satellite operator Fibersat has signed a framework agreement with Arabsat for the acquisition of a high throughput Ka-band hosted payload on an upcoming satellite. The payload, known has Fibersat 1, will provide HTS capacity for markets in Africa starting in 2018.

At launch, Fibersat will provide Internet access services to remote locations across the continent using low cost, commercially available VSAT terminals. The company has already signed significant pre-launch orders with telecommunications operators providing network services in the Africa region.

Blue Origin Unveils Reusable Orbital Launch Vehicle

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, announced today that the company plans to build and launch reusable orbital rockets from Cape Canaveral, Fla.’s Complex 36 launch site. Bezos said Blue Origin will also build a production facility to manufacture a reusable fleet of orbital launchers and ready them for repeat flights. Blue Origin is locating vehicle assembly near its launch site to simplify processing and transporting the rockets. The company did not release specifics about the rocket’s capabilities, though Bezos said more details would be forthcoming in 2016.

“The new orbital vehicle uses our BE-4 engines [and] it uses our BE-3 engines. We are very excited. It’s vertical Take-Off, Vertical Landing (VTVL); it’s an architecture that we have a lot of experience with from our New Shepard program. It’s a great architecture because it scales to unusually large size. It’s a fully reusable booster stage, and next year I’m going to share a lot more details with you about that vehicle,” he said.

Blue Origin also plans to conduct acceptance testing of the BE-4 engine at its Florida location. The engine is capable of 550,000 lbf and United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) will use it for its Vulcan rocket.

SpaceX Wins Falcon Heavy Deal for Arabsat 6A

Artist’s rendition of the Falcon Heavy rocket.SpaceX

SpaceX has received a contract from Saudi Arabia based satellite operator Arabsat for the launch of Arabsat 6A aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. The mission is planned for 2018.

Under construction by Lockheed Martin, Arabsat 6A will be located at 30.5 degrees east. This satellite, along with Hellas-Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat 1, will grow the operator’s fleet to 10 in-orbit operational satellites, providing TV, radio and broadband services.

SpaceX expects to launch the satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. With these additions, SpaceX currently has more than 60 missions on manifest with the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, representing more than $7 billion under contract. Other Falcon Heavy customers include Intelsat, Inmarsat, ViaSat and the U.S. Air Force.

ILS Appoints New President, Phil Slack Steps Down

International Launch Services (ILS) has appointed Kirk Pysher, formerly VP of mission assurance and product development, as president of the company. He takes over leadership from Phil Slack who served as president of ILS since 2012.

Pysher was appointed to the ILS board of directors, which consists of senior level representatives from both ILS and its majority holder Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center, last month. Khrunichev has provided its full endorsement of Pysher as the new head of ILS.

Harris Corp Completes Firs of Six GOES-R Ground Segment Antennas

The new Harris-built antenna for GOES-R satellites.Harris Corp.

Harris Corporation, the prime contractor and system integrator for the ground segment dedicated to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R (GOES-R) series, has finished the first of six 16.4-meter antennas. The antenna is operational and is serving as the primary link to the current GOES satellites. Harris Corp. is installing the other antennas at two of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) three GOES-R data centers: Wallops Island Command and Data Acquisition Station in Virginia and the Consolidation Backup Unit located in Fairmont, W.Va.

Lockheed Marti Adds Reprogrammable Capability to A2100 Satellites

Lockheed Martin is introducing payload technology on Hellas-Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat 1 to enable flexible bandwidth and frequency management for secure communications. That same technology can be used to dynamically reprogram satellites in-orbit and rapidly adjust communications networks. Satellites outfitted with this technology will be able to dynamically shift bandwidth to areas of peak demand. Lockheed Martin is offering this technology for new satellites based on its modernized A2100 platform.