Eutelsat's New Satellite Will Boost African Communications: African Business Editor Anver Versi Was Invited to See the Finishing Touches Being Applied to the Latest Satellite to Join the System That Is Providing Africa with Its Digital Link to the Rest of the World. Here Is His Report

By Versi, Anver | African Business, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Eutelsat's New Satellite Will Boost African Communications: African Business Editor Anver Versi Was Invited to See the Finishing Touches Being Applied to the Latest Satellite to Join the System That Is Providing Africa with Its Digital Link to the Rest of the World. Here Is His Report


Versi, Anver, African Business


If you followed the fascinating swings of fortune during the African Cup of Nations tournament last month, chances are that the matches broadcast from Tunisia arrived on your television set via a satellite operated by Eutelsat.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Eutelsat, headquartered in France, is Europe's leading satellite operator and one of the big four globally. It is now poised to become the leading operator for Africa with the launch of its biggest and latest satellite to date, the W3A.

The satellite, built by EADS Astrium in Toulouse, France, was being given its finishing touches when we--a group of journalists--were allowed a rare look at one of modern science's true wonders.

If computers have changed the way the world works, communications satellites have changed the way the world looks. More than airlines, they have shrunk the world into a village. Events taking place thousands of miles away can be seen and heard simultaneously by millions if not billions of people.

Satellites enable you to talk to someone on the other side of the world on your mobile, to send and receive internet messages, to plug into cable television and receive any number of television channels on your TV set at home.

Live TV global broadcasting from organisations such as CNN, BBC World or Multichoice Africa would have been impossible but for satellites.

Satellite broadcasting has been so successful that we now take it for granted and hardly bat an eyelid when a new launch is announced--unless it is going to make a difference to what we receive on our TV sets.

Eutelsat's W3A--scheduled to be launched by a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the wilds of Kazakstan on the 16th of this month (March) will make a big difference to Africa.

Eutelsat, which operates 22 satellites in orbit, already covers Africa but the addition of the W3A will expand coverage, improve reception and enable a number of other functions, such as intra-regional African connections to be made.

STATE OF THE ART COMMUNICATIONS

"We want to provide state of the art satellite communications infrastructure for intra-African and Euro-African connections and services," said Olivier Millies-Lacroix, Eutelsat's director of Products and Sales.

The organisation, he explained, had included Africa in its coverage from the very beginning, when it launched its first satellite in 1983. Coverage of north Africa included Algeria, (Canal Algerie), Egypt (ESC1), Morocco (RTM 1, 2M Maroc, MA3) and Tunisia (TV7 Satellite).

W2, launched in 1998, provided digital pay-TV coverage of the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Madagascar (Canal Satellite and Parabole Reunion).

Two years later, in 2000, Eutelsat launched the W4, expanding its coverage of Sub-Saharan Africa. A long term partnership with Multichoice Africa allowed distribution of Direct-Service pay-TV (DSTV) in 36 countries, ranging from Benin to Zimbabwe. Multichoice now has a subscriber base of 140,000 homes who receive over 50 TV channels and 20 music stations. Multichoice also offers high-speed internet access to DSTV subscribers in Nigeria.

In 2001, Eutelsat launched W1, which provided a high-power Ku-band spotbeam over central and southern Africa. Applications included satellite newsgathering by Globecast South Africa for sports, cultural events and breaking news.

Atlantic Bird[TM] 3, launched in 2002 provided robust C-band capacity serving the whole of Africa and enabling connectivity with Europe, the Middle East and North America.

The satellite carried a host of services, including two way broadband internet access, GSM cellular network connections, VSAT connections for credit card authorisations, telemetry for oil and gas applications, distance learning and enterprise-wide internet access. Also available were direct programme delivery from Europe for distribution to networks in Africa and TV and radio broadcasting of African channels, for example CRTV-Cameroon and Africa No1. …

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Eutelsat's New Satellite Will Boost African Communications: African Business Editor Anver Versi Was Invited to See the Finishing Touches Being Applied to the Latest Satellite to Join the System That Is Providing Africa with Its Digital Link to the Rest of the World. Here Is His Report
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