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India Needs More Satellite Capacity To Satisfy Market Demand
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At the India Satellite Forum 2009, the officials share insights on the growth prospects of India's satellite services market.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009: Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) completed a high-powered industry conference 'The India Satellite Forum 2009' themed 'Satellite Communications: A new era for India'. The annual forum was organised in association with the Convergence India trade show.

The India Satellite Forum 2009 attracted more than 150 officials, satellite services operators, pay-TV platform operators, content providers and telecom carriers share insights on the growth prospects of India's satellite services market.

A Bhaskaranarayana, scientific secretary, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), showcased the extraordinary progress made by the Indian satellite sector, which now boasts some 211 satellite transponders on 11 domestic satellites and was recently boosted by the successful launch of the Chandrayan-1 satellite into lunar orbit.

Bhaskaranarayana promised further "high-speed internet access and multi-media via satellite and IP-based services." Other on-going ISRO initiatives include the enhancement of India's satellite launch programme for commercial satellites and a domestically developed global positioning satellite navigation system.

"This year's India Satellite Forum has been an extraordinarily successful platform to promote development of the satellite market within India," added David Ball, chairman, the CASBAA Satellite Industry Committee and regional VP Asia-Pacific for Intelsat.

However, during follow-up panel discussions participants also called for the deployment of yet more satellite capacity over India in order to satisfy still pent-up market demand.

"Despite the extraordinary success of ISRO over the past couple of years, the digital telecoms and DTH markets remain seriously under-provisioned in terms of transponders," said Simon Twiston Davies, chief executive officer, CASBAA. "Commercial satellite services such as VSAT systems delivering national communications backbones and DTH services for home subscribers just can't source enough satellite capacity from the domestic market. Additional market de-regulation supporting international partnerships is essential."

Other speakers examined the commercial dynamics for DTH television development and the 'win-win synergies' between the digital cable, broadband, IPTV and mobile TV sectors. Meanwhile, a conference segment dedicated to industry regulation noted that powerful interference by uncontrolled deployments of Broadband Wireless Access systems could put dozens of Indian pay-TV channels off the air.

"This is a serious problem that can't be underestimated," said Jorn Christensen, a Canadian-based satellite engineering expert, who has examined Indian satellite market conditions in detail.

Meanwhile, CASBAA highlighted the "still astonishing potential upside provided by satellites for India's communications needs." According to CASBAA, India remains a highly competitive market for broadcast services with more than 240 licensed TV channels, some 10 million DTH connections and 4 million digital set-top boxes. Despite the recent economic down-turn, the industry is forecast to enjoy 4-6 per cent growth this year.

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