The latest addition to the Telenor Satellite Broadcasting fleet successfully launched from the Ariane facility in Kourou, French Guiana at 20.00 GMT. It represents the 34th consecutive successful launch for the Ariane 5 launcher.
Twenty minutes after launch signals from the launcher were picked up in Gabon; separation of NSS 12 was achieved at 20.26 and of Thor 6 at 20.31. You can see a video of the launch here.
“This is a fantastic time for Telenor, we’ve doubled our capacity,” said Cato Halsaa, MD, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. “We can now tell our customers they can expand their services on our satellites.”
Telenor is investing €150 million in Thor 6, of which approximately half is being spent on launch and insurance costs and the remainder on the satellite itself.
Thor 6 was accompanied on its journey by NSS 12, operated by the recently rebranded SES World Skies, and slated to provide communications facilities from 57 degrees East.
Thor 6 will replace 36 transponders on Thor 3 and add an additional 20 transponders to the fleet. This brings the total number of transponders at One West to 71.
The expansion capacity, largely aimed at the Central and East Europe market, is being shared with long-term partner Intelsat. Currently 15 million households receive their television signals from one degree West. This includes 5.5 million in the Nordics, largely from Telenor’s Canal Digital operation, 3m DTH subscribers in CEE and 4.7m cable customers CEE.
The CEE client base already includes Romanian Digi TV, the separate Focus Sat operations in Romania and Moldova; and the Ukranian start-up MyTV that is currently broadcasting on two Thor 3 transponders before moving to Intelsat operated capacity on Thor 6. From next Spring they will be joined by UPC Direct, adding a further 350,000 homes.
Broadband TV News understands Telenor is actively considering the next satellite to add to the One West fleet. A request for proposals could come as early as the first quarter of 2010.
(The picture shows the actual launch at 8pm GMT)