China: CMMB wants to keep radio-by-satellite slot

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China’s CMMB Vision Holdings wants to hold onto an important 21 degrees East orbital slot for a satellite to beam radio programming over Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Hong Kong-based company is reportedly developing a business which plans on using L-band (which is very suitable for satellite-based radio) and is officially termed S-DARS (Satellite-Digital Audio Radio Services). The now defunct Worldspace radio system used L-band (1467-1492 MHz) for its S-DARS transmissions.

However, the most successful satellite radio system, SiriusXM, uses S-Band from its satellites (2305-2360 MHz). The main advantage of L-band (and S-band) is ease of reception in vehicles by means of an integrated antenna usually mounted on the vehicle’s roof or in the car’s wing mirrors.

CMMB’s strategy, reported in Space Intel Report (SIR), is to place an old AsiaStar craft – once owned by Worldspace – into the 21 degrees East orbital position in order to retain China’s rights to the location. The previous occupant of 21 degrees East was Worldspace’s AfriStar satellite. WorldSpace went spectacularly bust in 2009.

CMMB has as its partner New York Broadband LLC (NYB). To retain rights to the slot the Chinese/NYB consortium must have a satellite at the position by October 31st 2020, or else gain a FCC extension to the deadline.

CMMB bought the AsiaStar and AfriStar satellites in 2014. At the time they talked about ordering two new satellites to be used as ‘follow on’ craft to AsiaStar and AfriStar. The founder and president of CMMB Vision is Charles (Chau-Chi) Wong, an American-educated Hong Kong entrepreneur who it was said would be providing funding for the two satellites.

The company has fresh plans to build two new satellites (“Silkwave”) and according to a statement made to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange it has now obtained financing from Saudi Arabian backers.


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