Arabsat’s Badr-7 To Host Ka-band Payload for EMC

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PARIS — Telecommunications services provider Emerging Markets Communications (EMC) has purchased a Ka-band payload aboard satellite fleet operator Arabsat’s planned Badr-7 satellite using what EMC says is its own patented technologies for satellite-delivered broadband to consumers and businesses, the two companies announced Feb. 18.

Miami-based EMC, which owns three teleports and has terrestrial and satellite customers in more than 140 nations, will use the Badr-7 Ka-band to beam broadband to 34 nations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Badr-7 was originally ordered by Arabsat in 2009 from a consortium led by Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space of Europe, with a launch set for 2012. But the satellite’s development was slowed as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat added new features.

In late 2012, the contract was signed for the modified Badr-7, a heavier satellite equipped with a Ka-band payload. The satellite is scheduled for launch into Arabsat’s 26 degrees east orbital slot in late 2015.

Arabsat is describing the EMC contract as a deal in which EMC “designed and acquired, on an exclusive basis, a hosted payload … to operate the first-ever multipurpose Ka-band payload covering 34 nations.”

The 26 degrees east slot is a core Arabsat position. It has more than 30 million households pointing their dishes there for television. EMC said in its statement that the Ka-band could be used for local and regional television, taking advantage of frequency reuse that Ka-band offers with spot beams.

It is also a slot at which it has an ongoing conflict with satellite fleet operator Eutelsat, which has said it has Ku-band rights to 25.5 degrees east — just half a degree away — that cannot be exercised unless Arabsat reduces its use of certain frequencies at 26 degrees west, and particularly those frequencies now used by the Iranian government as part of a lease with Arabsat.

It is unclear whether the addition of Ka-band to Badr-7 will exacerbate the friction with Eutelsat, whose Eutelsat 25B/Es’hailSat 1 satellite, being developed with the government of Qatar, is scheduled for launch this year. Like the reconfigured Badr-7, the Eutelsat satellite has a Ka-band payload as well.

The investment by EMC in Badr-7 follows the December purchase of a majority equity EMC stake by private-equity investor Abry Partners of Boston.

EMC Chief Executive Abel Avellan said in a statement that the Arabsat deal is only the first of several as EMC expands. “We are very excited about this transaction and plan to replicate the same model in other regions of the world,” Avellan said.