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Insat-4C loss: ISRO to decide on accommodating DTH operators

Madhumathi D.S.
Nina Varghese

Alternative transponders for Sun TV; its DTH foray by year-end

"We have spare capacity of some 20 transponders. We could also acquire it temporarily (as has been done in the past) but I cannot say right now (what the option would be)."

Bangalore / Chennai , July 11

After Monday's loss of Insat-4C, ISRO will soon have to decide how to accommodate the customers on it.

It could be on its own existing spare capacity; or leased from foreign operators as a stop-gap until ISRO builds up its network with 4B, six months away.

Sun TV had planned its DTH foray from Insat 4C. It had booked seven of its 12 Ku-band transponders, one of them for DSNG (digital satellite news gathering).

Mr Kalanidhi Maran, CMD, Sun Network, told Business Line that ISRO would provide alternative transponders, so that Sun's DTH programme will be on time, that is, by the end of this year. Mr K.R. Sreedhara Murthi, Executive Director of ISRO's commercial arm Antrix Corporation, indicated that hiring foreign transponder space for a short time could be a possibility.

"We have spare capacity of some 20 transponders. We could also acquire it temporarily (as has been done in the past) but I cannot say right now (what the option would be)," Mr Murthi said.

ISRO, one of the largest fleet operators over South Asia with Insats, has capacity of 175 transponders.

Thaicom, NSS, Panamsat have also put up satellites over the region. When Insat-2D failed, ISRO bought Arabsat's satellite in orbit.

It has also provided temporary leases on Thaicom, GE-Americom, and even now on NSS.

Sun Direct would be the country's fourth DTH player. Doordarshan's DD Direct and the Subhash Chandra-owned Dish TV, are both operational through NSS-6.

The third direct-to-home player, the Tata-Star TV combine's Tata-Sky, has leased the entire 12 Ku band capacity on the earlier Insat 4A and is said to be putting up or testing its systems.

According to Mr Murthi, the transponder choice depends on the urgency of the operator, power and frequency needed for its services. The current Insats with Ku bandwidth are 4A, 3A and 3C.

The Ku band requirements have been growing, especially after the 2003 DTH policy. 4C, according to ISRO officials, had only the 12 Ku band transponders, or over six per cent of the total ISRO capacity.

Most of the users like DD and NICNET were already on other Insats and would have migrated to 4C.

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