Intelsat 906 launch successful

WASHINGTON: At 2:44 am EDT on Friday, the Intelsat 906 satellite was successfully launched aboard an Ariane 44L vehicle. The satellite is expected to be operational this October.

The Intelsat 906 launch is the sixth in a nine-satellite campaign to replace and to enhance system capacity by the end of 2003. The 906 satellite will be deployed at 64E and will offer capacity for telephony, corporate networks, Internet, video and hybrid space/terrestrial solutions to customers on its 72 C-band and 22 Ku-band transponders (measured in 36 MHz equivalent units). The satellite will provide high power Ku-band spot beam coverage for Western Europe and part of Asia and additional C-band capacity to customers in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, an official release says.

The high power and coverage area of the Intelsat 906 satellite makes it ideal to support Ku-band video applications on the Indian subcontinent as well as all of Intelsat's GlobalConnexsm solutions, including Internet trunking and IPL.

The Intelsat 906 satellite will replace the Intelsat 804, which currently holds the 64E orbital slot but will be moved to a new location at 176E to support additional customer demand in the Pacific. As an extension of this deployment, and pending regulatory approval, the 906 launch also allows Intelsat to place a satellite in a new role at 85E to serve China, India and other parts of Asia.

Intelsat's next launch, the Intelsat 907 satellite, is scheduled to take place from French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 44L launch vehicle, during the first quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, PanAmSat Corp and Intelsat, the No. 2 and No. 3 global satellite operators, have quietly launched rival moves to acquire Eutelsat SA, Europe's largest satellite-services company, industry officials have been quoted as telling The Wall Street Journal.

Intelsat has reportedly submitted a formal offer, described as a hostile bid totalling $3.5 billion to $4 billion. But a deal with either suitor would significantly accelerate the industry consolidation already underway and create an international powerhouse, with a combined fleet of at least 38 satellites and annual revenue of more than $1.5 billion. Its size and geographic reach would reshape the industry, which already is in turmoil due to excess capacity and falling stock prices.

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