Satellite broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa will soon be gaining new broadcasting resources following the order announced by Eutelsat Communications of a new satellite from Thales Alenia Space.
Called Eutelsat 8 West B, the spacecraft will be launched in 2015 to 8° West, joining satellites already operated at the adjacent 7° West position by Eutelsat and the Egyptian satellite company, Nilesat. Broadcasting services from both positions are received by satellite TV homes with a single small Direct-to-Home dish.
With a rapidly growing audience and channel line-up, the 7/8° West video neighbourhood is reportedly one of the most dynamic in the global satellite TV market. Over 30 million homes in North Africa and the Middle East are already equipped for DTH reception of more than 800 Arabic and international channels broadcast at this position by Eutelsat and Nilesat. Free-to-air accounts for the majority of the offer (500 channels), while HD take-up is accelerating, currently representing 50 channels. The additional capacity will meet further expansion in a satellite broadcasting market where capacity demand for video services is forecast to grow by 6.8% a year over the coming five years (source Euroconsult). HDTV channels are expected to increase fourfold over the coming ten years.
The Eutelsat 8 West B satellite will be equipped with 40 operational Ku-band transponders designed primarily to serve DTH markets in North Africa and the Middle East. It will also introduce a C-band mission to 8° West, with 10 operational transponders connected to footprints covering the African continent and reaching west to South America.
To respond to the popularity of the 7/8° West neighbourhood, Eutelsat will redeploy an existing high-power Ku-band satellite to 8° West in 2013. This will reportedly increase resources in advance of the launch of Eutelsat 8 West B, enabling more broadcasters to benefit from a prime neighbourhood.
Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO said: “We want to ensure we are giving broadcasters the finest quality of service and headroom to grow their business. This new satellite programme will further equip us to deliver the highest quality of service at a video neighbourhood experiencing record demand for reaching TV homes across the Middle East and North Africa. We are also pleased to renew our confidence in Thales Alenia Space with this new order from their most state-of-the-art range of spacecraft.”
“We are both pleased and proud to sign this important contract today with Eutelsat,” said Jean Loic Galle, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space. “Our teams will deploy the full range of their skills and expertise to construct this new satellite and support our customer’s development. We thank Eutelsat for placing their trust in us. Eutelsat 8 West B is the 25th satellite built by Thales Alenia Space for Eutelsat, and it will be the 74th satellite in the Spacebus family to enter service in the global space telecommunications market.”