Intelsat has announced a joint venture with a South African investor group led by Convergence Partners that will utilize project financing to build and launch a new satellite in the 33 degrees East orbital location. The satellite, to be called Intelsat New Dawn, will be ideally positioned to serve the African continent and will feature a payload optimized to deliver wireless backhaul, broadband and television programming to the continent. It will be operated and marketed as part of the global Intelsat fleet and is expected to enter service in early 2011.
Africa has been one of the fastest growing regions for fixed satellite services in recent years, fueled by demand for critical infrastructure from communications providers and television programmers. Wireless telecom operators, broadband service providers, corporate network service providers and direct-to-home television operators have experienced growth along with the economic development of the region. The New Dawn joint venture was established to provide solutions for African communication needs, and is expected to deliver new capacity for voice, wireless backhaul, Internet and media applications.
The joint venture is expected to cost a total of about $250 million, funded approximately 15% with equity and 85% with debt , the debt being in the form of non-recourse project financing provided by African institutions. Nedbank Capital and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa are the largest participants in the debt funding consortium. The equity is to be provided by Intelsat (74.9%) and the Convergence Partners-led group (25.1%). Intelsat’s cash contribution to the project is expected to be approximately $25 million.
Over 50% of the satellite’s 28 C- and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponder units are under contract, with pre-launch commitments received from leading wireless, network and video service providers.