Chris Dziadul examines Telenor’s plans for Central and Eastern Europe.
Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSB) is not a company that readily comes to mind in Central and Eastern Europe, which is already served by several other leading satellite service providers including Eutelsat, SES-Astra and Spacecom’s Amos. However, it already has a long-established presence in the region and its involvement is set to become much more prominent following the launch of the Thor 5 satellite later this year.
TSB’s headquarters in Central and Eastern Europe are located in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, although it also has a presence in Bratislava, Slovakia. Employing the 1 degree West orbital position, which it shares with Intelsat, the company already uplinks 19 TV channels, as well as 16/17 radio stations, to a million viewers. Its clients include the Liberty Global owned Romanian DTH platform Focus Sat, Diema Vision, a Bulgarian company backed by Sweden’s Modern Times Group (MTG) that operates four channels, along with City TV, Nautic TV and Moby TV.
The 1 degree West slot as a whole is becoming increasingly important in Central and Eastern Europe, being also employed by the Romanian-owned DTH platform Digi TV, which has an estimated one million subscribers throughout the region.
However, TSB is itself gearing up for a much bigger role than at present. Earlier this month the company announced the expansion of its Multi-Service Network (MSNW) into the region, and it now encompasses Sofia, Bucharest and Budapest. The ‘ring structure’ effectively connects a significant part of Central and Eastern Europe via a fully redundant link and provides access to the major TSB teleport in Nittedal, Norway. It may in the future also be extended to the Czech Republic and parts of the former Yugoslavia.
Although TSB currently employs Thor lll to cover Central and Eastern Europe, its capacity will be significantly increased following the launch of Thor 5, with nine of the new satellite’s 24 transponders being specifically allocated to the region. That, coupled with the expanded MSNW, is likely to make TSB’s services an attractive option to both new and existing players.