PARIS, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) today announced the successful launch of its W3B satellite by an Ariane rocket from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Speaking in Kourou after the launch, Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, commented: "Tonight's W3B launch opens a new chapter at our 16 degrees East location, which is already the chosen neighbourhood for over 400 television channels, making it one of our four fastest-growing video positions. The increased capacity and expanded coverage of our new satellite will enable Eutelsat to further raise quality of service and expand the offer provided from a position reaching into our core markets of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Our thanks go to our longstanding industrial partners, Arianespace, to whom we entrusted our 25th satellite with tonight's launch, and Thales Alenia Space for delivering on this sophisticated and exciting programme."
Scheduled to enter service at 16 degrees East in December this year, W3B will replace Eutelsat's EUROBIRD™ 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites. Following the transfer to W3B of all existing traffic, each of the three satellites will be redeployed to an alternative position.
Through its configuration of up to 56 transponders, including three in Ka, W3B will address two key markets driving the digital economy: broadcasting and telecom/data services. A high-power footprint optimised for Direct-to-Home broadcasting in Central Europe will further anchor the 16 degrees East neighbourhood as a point of reference for satellite TV in the region. According to Eutelsat's recent audience research there is already an installed base of 11.2 million satellite and cable homes in Central Europe receiving channels from 16 degrees East, making it one of the satellite market's fastest-growing positions. High-power coverage over Indian Ocean islands will also support expansion of pay-TV, which reaches into almost 400,000 homes, and accelerate digital switchover in Mauritius and Reunion Island.
To address the market for telecoms and data services, W3B will initiate a new mission for sub-Saharan Africa, through coverage stretching from Senegal to South Africa and enabling connectivity with Europe. This new capacity will respond to high-growth applications including GSM backhaul and Internet access for enterprises, public agencies and consumers.
Lift-off of the Ariane 5 ECA rocket carrying W3B was at 18:51 local time in French Guiana (21:51 GMT, 23:51 Paris time) on 28 October. Separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle took place 28 minutes after lift-off. Operations needed to circularise the new satellite's orbit, place it into its operational configuration and carry out in-orbit testing will be controlled by Eutelsat from its satellite control centre at the Rambouillet teleport (near Paris), using a global network of earth stations.
The next Eutelsat satellite on the launch-pad is KA-SAT, Europe's first High Throughput Satellite, which is scheduled for launch in December this year. This will be followed in 2011 by W3C and ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7, in 2012 by W5A and W6A, and in 2013 by the EUROBIRD™ 2A satellite, which will be jointly owned and operated with ictQatar. The investment programme of seven new satellites will boost Eutelsat's resources by 25 per cent.
About Eutelsat Communications
Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL, ISIN code: FR0010221234) is the holding company of Eutelsat S.A.. With capacity commercialised on 26 satellites that provide coverage over the entire European continent, as well as the Middle East, Africa, India and significant parts of Asia and the Americas, Eutelsat is one of the world's three leading satellite operators in terms of revenues. At 30 June 2010, Eutelsat's satellites were broadcasting more than 3,600 television channels. More than 1,100 channels broadcast via its HOT BIRD™ video neighbourhood at 13 degrees East which serves over 120 million cable and satellite homes in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Group's satellites also serve a wide range of fixed and mobile telecommunications services, TV contribution markets, corporate networks, and broadband markets for Internet Service Providers and for transport, maritime and in-flight markets. Eutelsat's broadband subsidiary, Skylogic, markets and operates access to high speed internet services through teleports in France and Italy that serve enterprises, local communities, government agencies and aid organisations in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Headquartered in Paris, Eutelsat and its subsidiaries employ nearly 661 commercial, technical and operational employees from 28 countries.
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