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Help GSLV burnout a disaster for broadcasters, telcos

The failure of Geo-synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) F06 mission has not only hurt India’s space programme but could also be a major setback for the expansion plans of telecommunications and broadcasting companies, which are customers of Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).

With close to 40 transponders in the Bay of Bengal after two failed GSLV missions —one in April and another on December 25 — Antrix could severely fall short of bandwidth capacity and may have lease it from other satellites to meet customer demand.

Amitabh Kumar — director of technology for the Zee Networks, said the shortfall would inflate the cost of transponders for Antrix’s clients including Tata Sky, Dish TV, Bloomberg TV, Doordarshan, Zee, CNBC TV18, Star News, Aaj Tak, ETV and others.

It could also extend the waiting period of transponders for direct-to-home (DTH) and telecom operators. The latest mission with GSAT-5P satellite was carrying 24 C band and 12 extended C band transponders while the April mission had three transponders on GSAT-4.

“The customers will have to pay 10-15% more than what they are paying now for transporters if Isro goes for leasing capacity for its customers from other satellites,” said the technology chief of Zee Networks.

K R Sridhara Murthy, former managing director of Antrix Corporation, said with the next satellite launch expected only around March, the space organisation will most likely have to rent transponder capacity from foreign satellites.

Also, since some of the transponders on GSAT-5P satellite were to replace the ageing Insat-2E’s capacity — 12 transponders — Antrix would have to move fast to acquire transponders so that its customers are not left in a lurch.

Insat-2E will be at its life’s end in June next year.
“We were planning to shift Insat-2E customers to the new satellite (GSAT-5P). Yes, there will be a temporary gap (between demand and supply of transponders). We generally don’t wait till the last date of the satellite (life). We plan in advance for the replacement of its capacity,” said Murthy.

Today, the channels that are on Insat-2E include Bloomberg TV, TV9 Telegu, TV9 Kannada, SS Music, SS Entertainment, Akash Bangla, Kalaignar, Tara TV, Amritha, Sankara, Kairali, Raj TV, Asianet and others.

The ex-Antrix executive said ISRO could look at leasing capacity from other satellite operators like the Intelsat, Measat, AsiaSat and others. “This could also stretch the waiting period for the transponders on our satellites.”

S Satish, ISRO’s director for public relations and spokesman, said the space organisation currently has 164 transponders and leases 67 from other satellites.

“If there is fresh requirement we will lease more capacity from others,” he said.

“Meanwhile, we are getting ready to launch another satellite sometime around March and April in 2011, which will carry 24 Ku band transponders.”
Satish said these transponders will meet the requirement of Insat-2E customers.

He said Isro’s was planning another polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) satellite lift-off in the beginning of the fourth quarter of next year that will carry C-band transponders.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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