Developing its fleet and increasing the available capacity is one of the most important business objectives of every satellite operator. Indeed, these are the “tools of the trade” without which it would not be possible for them to offer any services to their customers.
Looking specifically at Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), we see mature and in many cases highly competitive telecom markets in which companies are searching for new growth opportunities. A good example are those that have until now not been involved in DTH operations extending their offers with TV services.
Take, for instance, Orange Romania, which launched Orange TV earlier this year. It will be soon be using the new Astra 5B satellite to deliver an offer that already consists of 42 HD channels, 27 of which are on an exclusive basis, and benefit from better beam strength and coverage.
Astra 5B, which is scheduled to launch in the first few weeks of 2014, will provide coverage of CEE, Western Russia, the Caucasus region and Turkey. The 31.5 degrees East orbital position it will occupy recently became a new ‘hot spot’ and will soon be used by several companies besides Orange Romania, including CME (for its Romanian channels) and MagtiCom, Georgia’s first domestic DTH platform.
Astra 5B will extend SES’ transponder capacity and geographical reach in the entire CEE region and neighbouring markets for DTH, direct-to-cable and contribution feeds to digital terrestrial television networks. It will also carry a hosted L-band payload for the European Commission’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and provide full access to the whole BSS band, thus inherent backup solution and the best operational security and reliability in the industry.
SES already operates 55 satellites, the newest of which (SES-8) was launched into a geostationary orbit only a matter of days ago. Interestingly, the launch was undertaken by a privately owned and funded company named SpaceX. A “new kid on the block”, it is seen a something of a pioneer and expected to have a far-reaching impact on the entire industry.
The significant growth in demand for satellite communications in CEE is increasingly being driven by the thirst for data, along with quality and HD broadcasting. From the latest smartphones, tablets and connected TVs to connecting communities across the vast hinterlands in the region, satellite remains one of the most resilient and reliable forms of communication.
Ultimately, satellite networks help drive development and investment in countries and regions with minimal or no terrestrial infrastructure. They also enable the roll out of remote communications networks and business support, support social development programmes from government and NGOs and – last but not least – in terms of signal distribution platforms, are fast and easy to implement.
From satellite operator perspective we see the future as an exciting challenge that we are well prepared to face.