New satellite to reinforce Eutelsat's expansion paths
Posted: April 25, 2001

Eutelsat has announced that it has signed a contract with Astrium Space Industries for the delivery of a new satellite called W3A. The procurement of this new 50-transponder spacecraft will meet Eutelsat's ambitions to consolidate its market position in Europe for multimedia services, reinforce its expansion path into Africa and strengthen its in-orbit redundancy programme. In addition to Ku-band transponders, W3A will initiate Eutelsat's second Ka-band mission and will also incorporate a SKYPLEX payload for on-board digital multiplexing.

Weighing in on the launchpad at 4.3 tonnes W3A is the largest satellite yet designed and ordered by Eutelsat. To be delivered in second quarter 2003, it will be placed in geostationary orbit at 7 degrees East where it will be colocated with Eutelsat's W3. The copositioning will enable Eutelsat to open a new multi-satellite neighbourhood that has great commercial potential by virtue of its proximity to Eutelsat's HOT BIRD satellites that broadcast services that can be picked up in Europe from 7 degrees East through a double-feed antenna.

W3A will incorporate an exceptional degree of operational flexibility as well as multiple regional coverages for intra-regional networks or regional connectivity. It will accommodate standard DVB and IP-type services including OPEN-SKY, Eutelsat's open standard service platform for streamed video (MPEG4) and audio (MP3) content, high-speed Internet and fast file delivery. The satellite will also offer broadband access, and pay-per-use bandwidth for corporate networks.

In terms of coverage, W3A will provide a pan-European footprint similar to the one provided by W3; a coverage optimized for Europe including Turkey, and stretching as far as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia will assume the content currently delivered by the steerable spotbeam on W3 and provide capacity for additional services; and a coverage of sub-Saharan Africa connected to Ku-band transponders optimized for two-way satellite broadband access and business-to-business networks within Africa. Connectivity between Europe and Africa will be possible using Ka-band frequencies for communications to and from Europe, and Ku-band frequencies for communications to and from Africa.

By using both Ku-band and Ka-band transponders that can be switched into 58 different channels W3A is optimizing the use of the frequency spectrum available at 7 degrees East. The satellite will also be equipped with five SKYPLEX units each catering for up to 18 carriers at 2Mbps with turbo-coding that enables considerable reduction in uplink power requirements and therefore small uplink antennas from up to 90 different locations at 2Mbps.

Explains Giuliano Berretta, Director General of Eutelsat: "W3A will bring tremendously flexible new satellite capacity into the European and African regions and as such will secure Eutelsat's position in the market for broadcast and multi-media services, notably OPEN-SKY. This satellite will also add another layer of security to our in-orbit resource, fitting in with our declared strategy to focus on reinforcing the high quality of service that we endeavour to provide to clients at an orbital position of key importance".

As one of the world's leading satellite operators, Paris-based Eutelsat enables TV and radio broadcasters, Internet service providers, telecommunications companies and corporations to transmit and receive content throughout Europe and Africa, large parts of Asia and the Americas. Eutelsat was the first operator in Europe to deliver DVB consumer television and today broadcasts 850 channels to over 84 million satellite and cable homes, making it one of the largest audiences in the world. Fifty-six per cent of Eutelsat capacity is used for television broadcasting and just over 40 per cent for services that include high-speed Internet access and Internet backbone connections. Eutelsat operates a system of 19 satellites, uses capacity on three additional satellites and has a total of seven satellites in construction.