Satellite and cable network supplier Arqiva of Britain expects to spend 147 million euros ($216.2 million) in 2009 leasing some 100 satellite transponders from satellite operators led by purchases from Eutelsat (77 million euros), SES (38 million euros) and Intelsat (16 million euros) for its government, corporate and broadcast customers, according to James Trevelyan, head of Arqiva’s enterprise sales.

The company, which operates 100 satellite Earth stations at seven teleports in the United States, Britain and France, believes in the market prospects of satellite-delivered digital cinema, which has been touted for years without substantial market response. Cinema owners have resisted the technology in part because of the high cost of digital cinema projectors. But the cost of this hardware is coming down fast.

With the coming 3-D television capacity, delivering films and live events, via satellite, to cinema outlets “is going to be very large in Europe,” Trevelyan said during the VSAT 2009 conference in London organized by Comsys. While the cost of digital switchover is “a challenge,” he said cinema owners will gradually accept the one-time charge for switching from tape to digital projection in return for enhanced digital-rights security and superior image quality, he said.