The launch of the Tata Sky DTH service branded T-Sky, in fact,
is set for further delay. Insat 4A, which was to be up in August-September,
now may launch only in November. Though the satellite was ready
in May, Arianespace has placed it in queue. "Arianespace has
intimated to us about a November launch. We are pushing hard for
October as the customers are waiting for it," says Isro contract
management and legal services director SB Iyer.
Space TV, sources say, had planned for a November test run if the
satellite had come up in August-September. Now it can only start
services next year as the satellite normally takes a month after
launch to stabilise. Tata Sky CEO Vikram Kaushik, however, was cautious
about commenting on the issue. "We have factored the Isro timings
into our schedule," he says.
Tata Sky will be given 11 Ku-band transponders on Insat 4A which
will be pushed to 12 later. "The satellite has 12 Ku-band transponders.
It is fully booked by Tata Sky. We have kept one transponder for
strategic reserve," says Iyer.
Reliance has indicated to Isro that it wants to start by mid-2006
with six transponders. If Sun is ready to launch on Insat 4C, Isro
would explore options to lease space on other satellite operators
before Insat series builds up capacity. Sun Direct plans to start
initially with five transponders.
The ramp up plan of DTH operators can further widen the gap which
Isro has to gear up fast to bridge. Tata Sky and Reliance want 18
transponders each while Sun intends to stabilise at nine. The demand
among the four players including Doordarshan totals up to 51 Ku-band
And this count does not include Subhash Chandra's Dish TV, which
is on NSS satellite, but has not yet indicated to Isro whether it
wants space on the Insat series. BPCL, the other player which is
waiting to launch, has also not applied to Isro for transponder
"In the past one year, nobody expected DTH to burst out. We
are creating capacity and will have 36 Ku-band transponders between
November-June. We are fully booked. After that, we are planning
to add up another 36 Ku-band transponders which we expect to take
us a year from then," says Iyer.
Isro will have a tough task as there is a burgeoning demand for
Ku-band transponders not only from DTH service providers but also
other users including telecom operators like Bharti and BSNL.