MUMBAI: In early October 2010, Asian satellite service provider, AsiaSat, and International Launch Services (ILS) had announced a contract for the launch of the AsiaSat 7 satellite on an ILS Proton.
AsiaSat 7 was configured as a replacement satellite for AsiaSat 3S, one of AsiaSat‘s flagship satellites, operating at the orbital location of 105.5°E. AsiaSat 7 will carry 28 C-band and 17 Ku-band transponders, and a Ka-band payload. Its region-wide high power C-band beam covers Asia, the Middle East, Australasia and Central Asia, with Ku-band beams serving East Asia, South Asia and a steerable Ku beam.
According to plan, the AsiaSat 7 satellite was successfully launched in Hong Kong on November 26, 2011, on an ILS Proton Breeze M launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Nine hours and 13 minutes after lift-off, AsiaSat 7 successfully separated from the launch vehicle. Over the next few days, the satellite will arrive at the geostationary orbit, some 36,000 km above the Equator.sia
“With AsiaSat 7 successfully launched well ahead of the planned date for AsiaSat 3S‘s replacement, we can assure continuity of service to customers, while at the same time, adding to our on-orbit capacity to service new business,” said AsiaSat president, CEO William Wade, in a press statement earlier. “With this launch opportunity on the ILS Proton, we are continuing our replacement strategy to provide continuity of services to our current and potential new customers across Asia, Middle East, CIS and Australasia. We know that we can count on the professionalism of ILS and Khrunichev for a successful launch for AsiaSat 7.”
While AsiaSat 3S was launched on March 21, 1999, as a replacement for the ageing AsiaSat 1 in May of that year, AsiaSat 7 marked the launch of the fourth AsiaSat satellite on ILS Proton, the 20th Space Systems/Loral Satellite launched on ILS Proton, and the 69th ILS Proton launch overall.
AsiaSat 7 is similar to AsiaSat 3S, and has been designed with a 15-year design life and will offer enhanced power and coverage at orbital location 105.5°E.
As for AsiaSat 3S, it currently beams some of the popular channels in India which include: Zee TV, Star Plus, Star Utsav, Sahara One, Sahara Filmy, Sahara Firangi, Sahara Samay, 9X Media, 9X Jalwa, Big RTL Thrill, Big Magic, Big CBS Spark, B4U Movies, B4U Music and ETC Bollywood, among others.
AsiaSat’s business continues to be affected by The Finance Act passed in India in May 2012. The Act taxes revenue generated from the provision of satellite transponder capacity to Indian customers and any non-Indian customers considered to have earned income from any business or source in India.
The Indian government approved in its budget an increase of the royalty withholding tax rate from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, effective from 1 April 2013. Nevertheless, as stated in previous reports, the amount of AsiaSat’s revenue considered to be Indian sourced, and thus taxable in India, is still under discussion as of the date of this report. The increase in the tax rate will have a negative impact on its future business, and to remain competitive in the market, AsiaSat may make pricing adjustments which could negatively impact its margins in the coming financial year.
In other major announcements by AsiaSat, the company indicated in its operational highlights for the financial year 2014-15 that two of its other satellites, AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8, are on schedule and will launch in mid-2014 to provide new C and Ku-band capacity for business growth. Also, the commencement of the preliminary design phase for AsiaSat 9, the replacement for AsiaSat 4 in 2017, will provide new coverage and services at 122?E.
AsiaSat chairman Sherwood P. Dodge said in a company statement: “Acquiring new business in 2014 will remain a top priority. Our expanding satellite fleet and reputation for providing quality and reliable satellite capacity, together with our commitment to our customers puts us in an excellent position to develop new business opportunities. The market remains highly competitive, but I believe our able management team and our high-quality services will enable us to move the business forward in 2014.”