India govt okays $139m INSAT-4G bird

11 Oct 2006

(The Economic Times (India) via NewsEdge) The government has cleared a 6.1-billion rupee ($139-million) plan to launch a new communication satellite that will augment India's capacity to handle direct-to-home (DTH) transmission and broadband connectivity.

The new satellite would also ease the pressure on the government to lease more foreign satellites to handle DTH transmission, sources said. A significant portion of the high-powered Ku-band capacity of the proposed GSAT-8/INSAT-4G would be committed to DTH and telecom service providers.

The communication satellite will provide 18 Ku-band transponders to the industry and will be ready for operation in two years, with a mission life of 12 years. The spacecraft is estimated to cost 3 billion rupees ($66 million), with the launch expected to cost 2.5 billion rupees ($55 million).

As Ku-band transponders help in digital communication, the Planning Commission has prepared a plan to convert Indian communication to digital in the next 10 years, starting with metropolitan cities. Its weather-proof transmission has made Ku-band extremely popular worldwide.

A number of players, including the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Doordarshan and various DTH operators have urged the government to provide them with new Ku-band transponders. A number of VSAT operators and digital satellite news gathering companies are also seeking such transponders.

According to sources, the increasing demand has made it necessary to provide at least 50 Ku-band transponders in the next five years. While the DoT wants to use them for village telephony, Doordarshan wants these transponders for DD Direct and HDTV projects.

The government had been flooded with requests for Ku-band transponders, the sources said.

As of now, the Ku-band capacity in the INSAT system consists of a dozen high-powered transponders and 22 medium to low-powered transponders.

Due to growing demand from DTH operators and VSAT service providers, 16 high-powered transponders have been leased from foreign satellites as a stop-gap arrangement. The government currently leases out its Ku-band transponders to companies providing DTH services and broadband internet.

For instance, Bharat Sanchar Nigam leases its transponders for 44 million rupees ($967,247) a year to companies, with a charge of 11 million rupees ($241,81) for every quarter thereafter.

© 2006 The Economic Times of India, Coleman & Co Ltd

© 2006 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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