Telesat's first Vantage satellite, Telstar 12 Vantage, is slated for a late November launch. Credit: Telesat/SpaceNews graphic

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Telesat of Canada on Nov. 11 said it would purchase a Ku-/Ka-band broadband satellite, called Telstar 19 Vantage, to be stationed at 63 degrees west over Latin America now that it had secured an anchor customer in EchoStar’s Hughes Network Systems.

The announcement comes as Telesat’s shareholders continue to debate the company’s future ownership structure and an initial public offer of stock. Loral Space and Communications of New York — majority economic shareholder in Telesat but owning only a minority of voting rights — said Nov. 9 it is attempting yet again to persuade Telesat co-owner PSP Investments of Canada to move forward on an IPO.

Germantown, Maryland-based Hughes, in its own announcement, said it had agreed to lease a large portion of Telstar 19 Vantage’s Ka-band — a total of 31 gigabits per second of throughput — for 15 years, with the satellite to be launched in early 2018.

Hughes said it would use this capacity, plus 24 gigabits of Ka-band throughput leased on Paris-based Eutelsat’s 65 West satellite, for its future consumer satellite broadband business in Brazil. The Eutelsat satellite is scheduled for launch in 2016 to 65 degrees west, just two degrees away from Telstar 19 Vantage.

Hughes said the Telesat capacity would be used for consumer broadband throughout Latin America, not just Brazil. Hughes officials have said 24 gigabits per second of throughput on Eutelsat’s satellite would serve 300,000 customers in Brazil.

The company is now more than doubling the bandwidth aimed at duplicating, in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, the HughesNet business it has developed in the United States, where Hughes has more than 1 million consumer subscribers.

Ottawa-based Telesat said Telstar 19 Vantage will carry more Ka-band than has been leased by Hughes, with the additional capacity to be directed to markets in Northern Canada, the Caribbean and the North Atlantic Ocean. A Ku-band payload will be aimed at high-throughput and conventional wideband markets in Brazil, the Andean region and the North Atlantic Ocean.

Telesat, in its announcement, did not specify a launch date for Telstar 19 Vantage. An early-2018 launch, as announced by Hughes, would mean a particularly aggressive construction schedule given the satellite’s likely size and complexity, and given the likely launch options at that time.

But Telesat has been able to secure a similar schedule for its first Vantage satellite, the all-Ku-band Telstar 12 Vantage for 15 degrees west, which was built by Airbus Defence and Space of Europe for mobility markets in South America, the Atlantic and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Telstar 12 Vantage is preparing for a late-November launch aboard Japan’s H-2A rocket, which would mean about 27 months from contract to launch. Telesat said it would order the satellite in “the coming weeks.”

IPO Pressure

In a Nov. 9 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Loral Space and Communications of New York said that in July it had exercised its rights to force a Telesat IPO of 25 million newly issued shares or less of common stock.

But to proceed, Loral will need PSP Investments’ approval to modify their Telesat shareholder agreement, which among other consequences would put Loral firmly in the driver’s seat with respect to Telesat’s future.

“If we are unable to reach agreement with PSP on these matters, the advice of the lead underwriter selected for the Telesat IPO will be sought to assist resolution,” Loral said.

Loral has a 62.8-percent economic stake in Telesat, but with voting rights of only 32.7 percent. Loral and PSP Investments have debated for years how to monetize their Telesat stake without ever concluding a deal.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.