SES Astra vs Avanti spat still unresolved

Despite strong protestations from Avanti Communications that they hold the rights to a disputed satellite slot at 31 degrees East, a dispute between them and SES remains officially unresolved.  Avanti has just commercialised its latest Hylas-2 craft at the spot, claiming it “brought into use” the position when its Hylas-1 satellite paused for 16 days at the spot last year on its way to correctly allocated position at 33.5 degree West.

SES Astra claims much the same rights, saying it occupied its claimed – and nearby – slot at 31.5 degree East in May 2010.  Moreover, SES wants to place its giant Astra 5B craft at 31.5 E next year.  Astra 5B will mostly operate in the uncontested Ku-band, but it also carries Ka-band transponders which would interfere with Hylas-2.
Complicating the matter further is that Avanti’s ‘right’ to the slot expired in May 2013, but their satellite was launched successfully in August, and despite being 3 months late the ITU accepted the argument.
The dispute was formally laid before the powerful ITU’s Radio Regulation Board (RRB) at a meeting in Geneva last week, but no decision was reached other than to review the matter at a November meeting.

Both parties are reportedly being asked to find their own solution to the problem. This could mean a compromise, but any compromise that means Avanti should lose a portion of their Ka-band frequencies could be devastating for the small company.

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