Satellite capacity operator Eutelsat has increased its stake in Russia’s fast-growing broadband and broadcasting sector by extending existing agreements with the RSCC (Russian Satellite Communications Company). The deal will give Eutelsat more capacity on RSCC’s satellites for the delivery of digital broadcasting and broadband services via 19 newly deployed Ku-band transponders on the satellite Express-AT1, due for launch at the end of 2013 in the 56 degrees East position. It follows earlier leases signed in November 2012 for capacity on RSCC satellites to be launched at 140 degrees East in 2013 and 36 degrees East in 2015.
Eutelsat, headquartered in Paris, now has a strong position in Russian broadcasting, with the Ku band between 12GHz and 18GHz being widely used for TV signal transmission. RSCC is Russia’s principle state operator of communications satellites, so to obtain capacity operators like Eutelsat have to reach leasing agreements, or in some cases participate in joint launches. In fact Eutelsat is collaborating with RSCC over a satellite operating in both the Ku and higher-frequency Ka band, for launch in 2015. This satellite, called Express-AMU1/Eutelsat 36C, will carry up to 70 transponders and add to the TV broadcast capacity currently at the 36 degrees east position provided by Eutelsat 36A.
RSCC says it will use some of that satellite’s capacity to meet increasing demand for satellite TV across its more densely populated European area. Eutelsat will also use its share of the capacity for coverage of European Russia, as well as to beam programming to sub-Saharan Africa. As a capacity operator Eutelsat in turn provides capacity to DTH service operators, such as NTV+ and Tricolor TV in Russia.
Eutelsat has expanded its Russian operations partly in response to expectations of further rapid growth. Currently 12.6 million of Russia’s 53 million households have satellite TV equipment installed, up 25% over the last two years.