Pakistan’s national satellite, Paksat, will play a major role in a program intended to bring the benefits of satellite technology to the population. CEO Usman Bajwa discusses the challenges ahead.
VIA SATELLITE: What the significance of the Paksat-1R satellite?
Bajwa: That satellite will replace the existing satellite, Paksat-1 (leased from Intelsat General). We are targeting launch in August 2011. It is being developed with CGWIC in China and Thales Alenia Space. Paksat-1R will have a C- and Ku-band payload. We will have 18 Ku-band and 16 C-band transponder equivalent capacity. The satellite has been specifically designed to offer broadcasting, DTH, backhaul services, Internet trunking and data services within the region. We will be covering South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe in C-band, and with Ku-band, we will be covering South Asia and the Middle East.
VIA SATELLITE: How much demand do you see for the capacity?
Bajwa: We are seeing strong demand for the satellite capacity on Paksat-1R. We might be struggling in terms of meeting the demand for C-band capacity. We have recently launched pre-launch bookings for this capacity and the response has been tremendous. We do see our C-band capacity running out pretty quick. We are already struggling to meet the demand on the C-band side.
In terms of the demand for Ku-band capacity, a lot will depend on the DTH projects which are scheduled to launch soon. There has been a lot of talk about DTH in Pakistan for the last four to five years and a lot of promises about services launching, with as yet, nothing to materialize. Licenses have been issued to DTH operators but they have not been able to launch their services as yet. We however see a renewed interest in launching DTH, among major players in the market, and we see that as a healthy sign that DTH will eventually take-off in Pakistan, and that is a significant opportunity for our Ku-band payloads. We are working hard with the licensed operators so we can start to see this capacity being used for broadcasting.
VIA SATELLITE: Are you looking for more satellites beyond Paksat-1R?
Bajwa: Paksat-1R is going to be the first in a series of such satellites that we are planning to launch. I would not want to put a specific figure on the number of satellites we might launch, but it could be three or more.
VIA SATELLITE: When will you announce details about follow-up satellites?
Bajwa: Plans are already underway for other satellites. We are now firming up plans for these. I would say you are likely to hear some announcements from us in this regards once Paksat-1R has been launched next year.