Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) plans to launch two more satellites into space within the next two years for TV and internet services, Director General Saad al-Badanah said Saturday, November 24.
"Arabsat's board of directors is expected to sign the contract for the fourth generation satellites in January 2002. Manufacture and launch will take two years," Badanah told AFP.
Riyadh-based Arabsat, owned by Arab League member states, currently has three satellites in space, two from the second generation and a more recent third generation one. They provide mainly digital and analogue TV and other satellite telecommunication services between Arab countries. Badanah said the launch of the new satellites is aimed at strengthening Arabsat's position in the market and boost its reputation as a credible provider of telecommunication services.
Arabsat has successfully marketed to almost full capacity all services available on satellites currently in orbit, he said. Badanah declined to provide details of the cost of the new satellites or where they will be launched until the organization has signed the contract.
The first satellite will have 24 C-band channels. The second is planned to carry 32 channels on the KU-band, transmitting both digital and analogue programs, Badanah added. Besides normal TV services, the new satellites will provide Internet and encrypted TV services.
Arabsat was established in 1976 with a capital of $163 million and began its commercial activities in 1985. Last year it reported a $48-million profit, down five million dollars from the previous year.
Badanah said Arabsat has not been affected by the launch of Egypt's Nilesat or the United Arab Emirates' Thuraya telecommunication satellite. Arabsat has a 10 percent stake in the latter, he said. —(AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
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