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By | July 9, 2007

      Irdeto Acquires IDWay
      Irdeto, a provider of conditional access services to direct-to-home operators, has acquired IDWay, Irdeto announced July 6.
      The companies began working together in 2006, and the acquisition of IDWay, which provides open software solutions to digital TV consumers, bolsters Irdeto’s product offerings. By combining IDWay’s middleware solutions with Irdeto’s conditional access solutions, Irdeto will be able to provide a wider range of integrated solutions to operators and set-top box manufacturers.
      This follows a trend in recent years of conditional access players looking to extend into the middleware arena to offer a more comprehensive solution to pay-TV operators. Two of Irdeto’s major rivals, NDS and the Kudelski Group, are able to offer customers combined solutions.
      Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

      ESA Receives Proposals For 50 Scientific Missions
      The European scientific community has submitted proposals for 50 new scientific missions following a call for proposals issued in March by the European Space Agency (ESA), the agency announced July 6.
      In October, ESA will select three medium-class missions — defined as those with costs to ESA not exceeding 300 million euros ($408.5 million) — and three large-class missions, with costs to ESA not exceeding 650 million euros ($885 million),  for feasibility studies that run through 2011.
      ESA then will select a medium- and a large-class mission for implementation by ESA’s Science Program Committee, with launches of the spacecraft scheduled to take place in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

      Orbcomm Subscribers Grow
      Orbcomm Inc. added 28,000 net billable subscribers in the 2007 second quarter, the company announced July 5. The additions give Orbcomm a total subscriber base of more than 278,000 at the end of June, an increase of 11 percent from the end of March.
      Orbcomm maintained its annual guidance estimate that it will add 150,000 to 170,000 net additions during 2007.

      Sogecable Loses Key Rights
      In a major blow to its pay-TV aspirations, Sogecable, which operates the Digital+ direct-to-home satellite platform, has lost the blue-chip Spanish soccer rights in Spain to Mediapro, a Spanish audiovisual rights company.
      The broadcasting rights through the 2008-2009 season are held by AVS, which is 75 percent owned by Sogecable and 25 percent by Mediapro. Mediapro announced July 5 that it has signed most of the top Spanish teams to an exclusive broadcast rights deal to run for five seasons starting with the 2009-2010 season.
      Sogecable has filed a lawsuit claiming the move is in breach of contract, but “Sogecable now faces a period of uncertainty,” media equity analyst Nick Bell of Bear Stearns said in a research note. “There is a huge range of scenarios ahead, from Sogecable winning the legal battle through to facing big cost increases on the football rights and even losing them altogether, either to another operator or as a result of an unbundling strategy by Mediapro.”
      Mediapro does not own a pay-TV station of its own and is likely to pre-sell the rights to the broadcasts, Bell said. “Sogecable does have the advantage currently of the largest subscriber base on its satellite platform of 2 million versus Ono’s 1 million on cable and 420,000 on Imagenio’s [Internet Protocol TV] service,” he said.

      Orange, GlobeCast Peddling Communications Support To  2007 Tour de France
      High-definition coverage of the 2007 Tour de France will be provided by Orange Group subsidiary GlobeCast to French broadcaster France Televisions and the European Broadcasting Union, Orange announced July 6.
      To cover the event, which runs from July 7 through July 29, GlobeCast will deploy up to eight satellite newsgathering and mobile microwave units at each stage.
      GlobeCast’s mobile units will distribute the feed around the globe on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union.
      Norsat CFO Resigns
      Cathy Zhai, CFO of satellite solutions provider Norsat International Inc., resigned effective June 27, the company announced July 6. Until a successor is named, the CFO duties will be conducted by James Sharpe, a member of Norsat’s board and chairman of the company’s audit committee.
      NASA Postpones Dawn Spacecraft Launch
      The scheduled July 7 launch of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft aboard a Delta 2 rocket has been postponed until July 9 at the earliest, NASA announced. Dawn, the first planetary spacecraft manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corp., will visit the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
      If NASA is unable to launch the mission by July 19 it would have to be delayed until a new window opens in September, adding another $25 million to the $449 million price tag, according to NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown.
      Radyne To Buy AeroAstro
      Radyne Corp. plans to acquire AeroAstro Inc., Radyne announced July 5.
      Radyne will pay about $17.3 million in cash and $750,000 in stock as well as assume $500,000 in debt for AeroAstro, which designs and builds microsatellites and small satellites and related technologies for the U.S. Air Force, NASA and space vehicle integrators. In 2006, AeroAstro reported revenues of about $12.4 million.
      The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close within the next 30 days. Radyne intends to operate AeroAstro as a subsidiary, retaining its existing management and infrastructure, which includes facilities in Ashburn, Va.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Littleton, Colo.

      Talia Leases Transponder From Arabsat
      Arabsat will provide capacity on its Badr-4 satellite to Talia, a provider of Internet and voice services, Arabsat announced.
      Talia will use the transponder focused over the Middle East and North Africa to provide iDirect and dedicated services to customers throughout the region. Talia will also sublease space to other providers.

      China Places Chinasat 6B Into Orbit
      ChinaSatcom’s Chinasat 6B telecommunication satellite was boosted into orbit July 5 by a Long March 3B rocket, satellite prime contractor Thales Alenia Space announced.
      Based on the Spacebus 4000 C2 platform, Chinasat 6B carries 38 C-band transponders and will be dedicated to television broadcasting, allowing reception of up to 300 television programs across China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Oceania.
      Thales Alenia Space assisted ChinaSatcom on the launch campaign and will support orbital positioning and in-orbit tests.
      Guardian Mobility Unveils Globalstar Modems
      Guardian Mobility Corp. has launched the Tracer 3 product family of satellite modems designed to communicate via Globalstar’s simplex data network, Globalstar Inc. announced July 5. The modems are capable of providing data such as location coordinates, remote status and other sensor information to customers from remote regions.

      Elta Releases Repeaters For Use With Multiple Satellite Navigation Systems
      Elta has released its R3G universal repeater, which will receive and retransmit signals from the GPS, Glonass and Galileo satellite navigation systems, as well as allow the signals to be used inside buildings and other covered areas, Elta announced July 4.
      The repeater includes an external antenna that receives input frequencies. Once the signals have been received they are routed via a reception cable to a radio frequency box, which filters and amplifies the signal, which can then be retransmitted.
      Alcatel-Lucent To Aid In ICO Mobile Interactive Trial
      Alcatel-Lucent will provide network integration services as well as equipment, engineering and implementation services for a trial of mobile interactive media services that ICO Global Communications Ltd. plans to begin in 2008, ICO announced July 2.
      This trial will be the first global deployment of a hybrid satellite and terrestrial solution using the DVB-SH mobile broadcasting standard. The service will provide Internet protocol data communication services using GMR air interface technology, a suite of interactive mobile video products using DVB-SH.
      Alcatel-Lucent will develop the system architecture and network design as well as provide end-to-end integration of the trial system. The DVB-SH solution is supported by partners that include chipset vendors and terminal manufacturers and is part of Alcatel-Lucent’s Unlimited Mobile TV solution.
      Financial details of the contract were not released.

      MSV Meets FCC Satellite Construction Milestone; Reduces Bond Amount
      Mobile Satellite Ventures passed a critical design review milestone for its MSV-1 satellite that had been set by the International Bureau of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the company announced.
      The approval means that MSV may reduce its bond amount by $750,000 to $1.5 million, MSV said.
      MSV’s two next-generation satellites, being manufactured by Boeing Co., are scheduled for launch in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

      Inmarsat’s Brazilian Island Opportunity
      Inmarsat is teaming with Instituto Ilhas do Brasil (the Institute of Brazilian Islands) to bring modern communications to some of Brazil’s most isolated offshore communities.
      Inmarsat is offering use of its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service to monitor 1,000 islands off the coast of Brazil. Many of Brazil’s 1,000-plus islands never have been explored by scientists. Initially, expeditions supported by the institute will use BGAN to share images and data gathered about the biodiversity of the islands.
      The agreement also will provide mobile voice and broadband services to the islands for the first time.
      “We believe offering communication access to the thousands of people who inhabit Brazil’s small coastal and island communities is not a matter of privilege but a necessity,” Alexandre Castro, general director of the Instituto Ilhas do Brasil, said in a statement. “And for that reason, we are sure that through this partnership between Inmarsat and the institute we will be able to showcase the BGAN solution as an indispensable tool for promoting both digital inclusion, and the democratization of knowledge and information.”

      SES Adds Two Board Members
      SES Global has added Robert Ross and Ashok Ganguly to its board of directors, the company announced.
      Ross served as CEO of New Skies Satellites from 1998 until 2002 and served as consultant to the company from 2002 until 2004. He also has held senior positions at the National Cable Television Association and at Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
      Ganguly is chairman of Firstsource Solutions Ltd. and ABP Pvt Ltd. and has served as a director on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India since November 2000.
      Telenor Satellite Services Launches Secure Networking Technology
      Telenor Satellite Services, a subsidiary of Telenor of Norway, has rolled out Terralink Secure Version 7.1, a secure networking value-added service to enable users to more effectively filter security attacks and unwanted Internet content over satellite communications, the company announced July 3.
      Terralink Secure Version 7.1 includes automatically updated anti-virus, anti-spam, and intrusion protection (firewall) services.
      Designed to prevent Internet traffic or content reaching a user’s satellite terminal before the content enters the satellite portion of the end-to-end connection, Terralink Secure differs from client-installed firewalls and security programs running on a user’s PC.
      Virgin Media Open To Bidding
      Virgin Media confirmed July 3 that it has received a bid proposal from an unidentified company looking to purchase it.
      Though the provider of cable television, telephone, Internet and mobile phone services would not disclose the company behind the bid, it was widely reported that it is the U.S.-based private equity firm Carlyle Group.
      Virgin Media is a rival to BSkyB in the United Kingdom. Despite the rebrand to Virgin, the operator has found it difficult to compete with BSkyB in the television market. Virgin also said it is conducting a strategic review of the company with Goldman Sachs, which could lead to a possible sale.

      SAR-Lupe Satellite Successfully Launched
      The second SAR-Lupe satellite, part of the German observation system, has successfully been launched into orbit from the Plesetsk space center by a Russian Cosmos-3M rocket.
      SAR-Lupe provides continuous, high-resolution ground images to the German Ministry of Defense. The SAR-Lupe program, which has a lifetime of 10 years, features a constellation of five identical small satellites plus a ground segment. The satellites will be positioned into three quasi-polar orbital planes at an altitude above 300 miles. Three more SAR-Lupe spacecraft are scheduled for launch at intervals of four to six months until the constellation is completed in 2008.

      Iridium Seeks Information For Next-Generation Satellite System
      Iridium Satellite released a request for information to potential partners interested in participating in the design, development and deployment of its Next network, the company announced July 2.
      Iridium unveiled plans in February to spend more than $2 billion to build and deploy a second-generation satellite constellation dubbed Iridium Next. Plans call for the 66-satellite system to be rolled out incrementally, with a portion of the cost funded through cash flow, which is about $60 million per year, and the remainder from capital markets and strategic partners.
      “Releasing [a request for information] is an important step in the design and procurement of Next,” Don Thoma, Iridium’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “We are looking for the most innovative and experienced companies in the industry to help us with our deployment.”

      Raytheon Receives Initial Installment On Navy Communications Contract
      Raytheon Co. has been awarded an installment of $27 million to provide satellite communications terminals to support a Space and Naval Warfare Systems contract, the company announced July 2.
      Under the contract, which could be valued at up to $38 million, Raytheon Network Centric Systems will deliver nine extremely high-frequency, follow-on terminals to the U.S. Navy.

      ND SatCom Wins Polish Deal
      ND SatCom will supply Earth stations for one of the largest direct-to-home operators in Eastern Europe, ND SatCom announced July 2.
      Poland’s Canal+ Cyfrowy awarded ND SatCom a contract to provide ground stations for the operator’s new digital TV platform headquarters in Warsaw. The contract includes two uplinks and a downlink system through which Canal+ Cyfrowy will broadcast TV channels, including high-definition (HD) programming.
      The deal will allow for reception and transmission of an HD signal produced by Canal+ for Orange Ekstraklasa (Polish premiere league) soccer matches. The remaining multi-port broadcast dishes will provide a flexible solution that enabled Canal+ Cyfrowy to further develop the platform.

      Thales Alenia Space Supplies Emergency Communications
      Thales Alenia Space will supply two Emergesat containers to the Casques Rouges Foundation, the company announced July 2.
      The containers are designed to re-establish communications links in crisis situations and keep emergency personnel informed during humanitarian relief work as well as provide Earth observation and geopositioning/navigation information.
      One of the two containers will be shipped to Africa’s Darfur region in October.
      JSAT Subsidiary Opens Washington Office
      JSAT International, a subsidiary of JSAT has moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., closing its Los Angeles operations after six years, JSAT announced.
      JSAT International relocated to Washington to expand its marketing activities for the Horizons-2 satellite, which is scheduled to be launched later this year. JSAT is manufacturing Horizons-2 under a joint venture with Intelsat.

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