Eutelsat Leases Capacity from RSCC

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat will lease capacity on two upcoming Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) satellites over 15 years for 300 million euros ($390 million), the two companies announced Nov. 1.

The agreement clarifies the near-term future of Eutelsat-RSCC relations, particularly at 36 degrees east, a slot coveted by both companies and already the subject of a partnership between them.

The two operators in 2011 announced an agreement to expand capacity at 36 degrees east through a satellite that would be financed by Eutelsat. Eutelsat did not immediately respond to requests for clarification Nov. 1 over whether this new agreement replaces the May 2011 arrangement.

“The satellites will belong to RSCC,” Eutelsat said in a Nov. 1 statement in response to SpaceNews inquiries, adding that the Paris operator will nonetheless take part in the evaluation of bids for the satellite to be placed at 36 degrees east.

“We will have two long-term capital leases that allow us to exploit Ku- and Ka-band capacity at 36 degrees east in Eutelsat frequencies and in RSCC frequencies at 140 degrees east. The new 36 degrees east satellite will provide us with replacement and expansion Ku-band transponders connected to beams over Russia and Africa and new Ka-band capacity for the European part of Russia.

“Eutelsat will have eight Ku-band transponders (half of the satellite’s total capacity) on AT2 to develop video business in the eastern parts of the Russian Federation.

“The capital leases will be paid under installments starting from [in-orbit qualification] of the two satellites: 2013 for Express AT2 and 2015 for Express AMU1,” according to Eutelsat.

Earlier this year, Paris-based Eutelsat resolved a potential frequency-coordination issue with Ukraine over frequency rights around 36 degrees east. Eutelsat already operates two spacecraft, the Eutelsat 36A and Eutelsat 36B, at the slot.

In addition to 36 degrees east, which will now have more capacity available in 2015 than RSCC had planned, the agreement includes a Eutelsat lease of an RSCC satellite to be launched into a slot over Russia’s Far East in 2013.

For 36 degrees, RSCC plans to select a manufacturer for a satellite called Express-AMU1, to carry Ku- and Ka-band capacity totaling up to 70 transponders, in the coming weeks. The satellite will be launched in 2015. Eutelsat will use its share of the capacity, to be marketed as Eutelsat 36C, to expand its reach into markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

The two companies said the 36-degree position currently provides television programming to 11 million Russian households.

For 140 degrees east, where RSCC’s Express-AM3 satellite is already in service, RSCC will launch the Express-AT2 satellite in 2013. This satellite, to provide 3 kilowatts of power to a payload of 16 Ku-band transponders, is being built by Russia‘s ISS Reshetnev, with the payload provided by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy.

Express-AT2 had been scheduled to operate from 36 degrees east before the Eutelsat-RSCC agreement.