Woeful week for both Eutelsat and SES

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It hasn’t been the best of weeks for Europe’s two main satellite operators. Eutelsat has suffered the loss of an important solar array on its latest satellite, Eutelsat 5 West B.  The satellite is fully insured so there will be capital loss but the performance of the satellite is bound to be impaired.

Eutelsat says it is working to assess the potential impact on the performance of the satellite and will communicate on it as quickly as possible.

The satellite was launched on October 9th on a Russian Proton rocket, and was due to replace its E-5 West A craft and amongst other key services supplies France with its Fransat bouquet of channels.

Meanwhile, a key event this week was the merger of Telenor’s Canal Digitaal and Viasat bouquets. Viasat will move its services from the SES 5 and Astra 4b satellites and relocate onto Telenor’s Thor 1 satellite. This will severely impact SES revenues once the change is concluded. There’s likely to be a long period of dual-emissions while the change-over takes place.

Investment bank Exane/BNPP says that it calculates that Viasat is using about 15 transponders on the SES 5 satellite. Sami Kassab at Exane calculates that the loss to SES will be about €15-€20 million annually.

SES will provide more detail on October 25th during its Q3 results announcement, although the re-positioning of hundreds of thousands of dishes will take time.


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