Eutelsat/SES Satellite Slot Battle Fully Resolved

I've written about the battle between Eutelsat and SES over spectrum at the 28.5 degree east longitude orbital location. Last week it was resolved. The two parties concluded a series of agreements including a comprehensive settlement of legal proceedings concerning the right to operate at that location and containing long-term commercial, as well as frequency, coordination elements. Eutelsat ceased operating in the disputed spectrum at that location on Oct. 3, 2013, with SES using the spectrum since that date.

Under the agreement, SES will continue to operate its satellites at 28.5 degrees EL, with Eutelsat contracting with SES for 125 MHz (eight transponders) of the disputed spectrum under a long-term commercial agreement.

Eutelsat will also use capacity on the three new satellites that SES is deploying at the 28.2/28.5 degrees EL position, Astra 2F, Astra 2E and Astra 2G. (Astra 2F and Astra 2E are operational at the location now, and plans are in place to launch Astra 2G later this year.)

A third agreement between the two companies addresses technical frequency coordination under the rules of the International Telecommunication Union and will allow both parties optimized use of their respective spectrum at a number of orbital positions over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It also confirms and clarifies in technical terms the geographic coverage and transmission power levels for frequencies at these positions.

“The agreements with Eutelsat create a secure framework for operations in major broadcasting and data markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa,” said Romain Bausch, SES president and chief executive officer, said. They are beneficial for our whole industry and, above all, for our customers and end users as they experience optimal satellite services. The agreements allow SES to fully leverage its satellite and fleet investments and operate its assets and frequency spectrum efficiently. We can focus on further commercializing our satellite capacity and ensuring excellent services for customers and users worldwide."

Eutelsat's Chairman and CEO Michael de Rosen also commented on the outcome.

“Guided by key objectives to deliver clients impeccable service and to optimize spectrum use, Eutelsat and SES have taken a pragmatic and business-like approach to reaching this settlement,” said de Rosen. “These long-term agreements clarify the conditions for interference-free operations, enabling each company to independently expand its commercial activity in a competitive environment. Eutelsat is committed to delivering innovative services at one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the broadcasting market and can now further improve the productivity of its in-orbit resources and future investments.”

Eutelsat estimated the impact of the settlement on its fiscal year 2013-2014 revenues at an approximately 5 million Euros loss, with no impact on revenues in the following two years.

The same day as the companies announced the settlement, SES announced SES's ASTRA 2E Satellite Goes Live at 28.2/28.5 degrees East Over EMEA. SES said extensive in-orbit tests have confirmed the satellite to be fully operational and performing to specifications and over the coming weeks, BSkyB, Channel4, ITV and BBC programming in this arc will be transitioned to the new satellite with its powerful footprint over the British Isles. Astra 2E is co-positioned with Astra 2A, Astra 2F and Astra 1N. It was built for SES by Astrium of France and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform.

Additional information is available in the press release Eutelsat and SES settle their dispute and conclude a series of agreements concerning the 28.5 degrees East orbital position and in an article by Peter B. de Selding, SES and Eutelsat Reach Final Settlement of Long-running Spectrum Dispute on

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.