Intelsat puts a new bird in space

Fixed satellite operator Intelsat this week announced the successful launch of its latest bit of kit, the shiny new Intelsat 15 satellite (IS-15), which will replace the ageing 709 satellite.

The satellite was deployed by a Zenit-3SLB vehicle, launched from facilities at the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on Monday and is designed to have a useful life of 17years.

Once IS-15 is operational, customers will use its capacity to deliver services including cellular backhaul, wireless communications to remote locations, enterprise networking, and video services to the Middle East, Indian Ocean region and Russia. The IS-15 carries 22 Ku-band transponders, five of which are owned by broadcaster Sky Perfect JSAT Corp.

“IS-15 is our second launch of 2009, and the second in an 11-satellite launch campaign, the largest in Intelsat’s history. This spacecraft will have a satellite footprint that covers the majority of the Middle East, the Indian Ocean region and Russia, making it an ideal spacecraft for delivering services to customers operating in these regions,” said Dave McGlade, Intelsat CEO.

Analyst forecasts indicate that around two billion more mobile subscribers will be added to the global market by 2013, with rural customers in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa accounting for a majority of this growth. And there is evidence of a trend towards the use of satellite networks to cost-effectively backhaul voice and data traffic, as well as a shift toward an all-IP network infrastructure to achieve greater operational efficiencies.

Industry analyst Informa, which recently published a research paper commissioned by satellite-based IP technology firm iDirect, found that operators are realising the advantages of Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) satellite networks as an alternative to microwave towers, Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) satellite connectivity and other conventional forms of mobile backhaul.

According to Informa estimates around 58 per cent of operators worldwide currently deploy satellite backhaul technology, and 80 per cent plan to expand their basestation sites further into remote areas in the next five years, with TDMA-based infrastructure accounting for the majority of growth.

Moreover, 83 per cent of carriers have begun implementing IP technology, with major benefits listed including offering internet access, supporting a broad variety of mobile data services and creating a single unified network to lower operating costs, minimize technical complexity and increase network efficiency.

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