Satellite operators Eutelsat has selected EADS Astrium to deliver its first satellite operating exclusively in Ka-band frequencies. The satellite will form the cornerstone of a major new satellite infrastructure programme designed to expand significantly capacity for consumer broadband services across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, while providing new opportunities for local and regional television markets.
Currently called KA-SAT and scheduled for launch in third quarter 2010, the satellite will be configured with over 80 spotbeams. A network of eight gateways managed by Eutelsat, and which will provide access to KA-SAT and deliver the full range of services to end users, will form an integral part of the new infrastructure. Eutelsat will locate KA-SAT at 13Âº East where it will join three large Hot Bird Ku-band broadcasting satellites. This co-location will enable satellite homes to receive television in the Ku-band and new rich media services in the Ka-band through a single dual-frequency antenna.
KA-SAT is the European equivalent to ViaSat-1, a high-capacity Ka-band broadband satellite ordered by ViaSat to serve the North American market and planned to launch in 2011. ViaSat and Eutelsat are co-operating closely around ViaSat’s Ka-band SurfBeam networking system and a similar wholesale business model that works through ISPs, telecommunications companies and pay-TV platforms to serve subscribers.
Giuliano Berretta, Chairman and CEO of Eutelsat said that with their high power and broad coverage, today’s Ku-band satellites are highly optimised for video broadcasting and professional data networks and are the core component of Eutelsat’s satellite system. He described the Ka-band initiative as "crossing a new frontier to a specifically designed infrastructure for interactive consumer services." He confirmed that Eutelsat would also leverage the substantial capacity available in the Ka-band for new opportunities for local and regional content, and that the craft had been designed for transmitting new video applications requiring ultra-high bit rates such as HD digital cinema and 3D television.