SES-Astra announced today that it has moved its satellite Astra 1E from the orbital position 19.2 degrees East to 23.5 degrees East to replace Astra 1D which is approaching the end of its design life. At its new position, Astra 1E joins 3A and will become operational by the end of this month. To further enhance the 23.5 degrees East position, another new satellite, Astra 3B, is scheduled to be launched by the end of 2009, adding 19 transponders to the 37 transponders available at this orbital position today.
SES is building 23.5 degrees East into a new prime orbital slot for DTH reception, focusing specifically on the Benelux and Central and Eastern European markets. Today, more than 330 TV and radio channels are available from 23.5 degrees East, including the satellite platform operators Sky Link from Slovakia and CS Link from the Czech Republic. CS Link now disposes of 250,000 activated smart cards in the market; the Czech broadcaster Nova TV launches its new first Czech HD pilot channel on CS Link, as reported in Broadband TV News.
23.5 degrees East also transmits the Dutch regional broadcasters and The Netherlands’ DTH platform Canal Digitaal will launch a thematic bouquet later this year and HD bouquet early next year, as reported in Broadband TV News. The German cable operator KDG uses the position for the distribution of its digital bouquets to its headends, but will replace this by fibre links, thus freeing up more capacity at the orbital slot.