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Belarus’ Belintersat Project Prepares for Inaugural Telecom Satellite

By Caleb Henry | May 13, 2015
Belintersat Belarus Abramov

The Belintersat Project sales team with Andrey Abramov, head of the project standing in the center. Photo: Belintersat

[Via Satellite 05-13-2015] Belintersat, the new national satellite operator of the Republic of Belarus, is less than a year away from the launch of its first spacecraft. Established by the government for the purpose of creating a modern satellite communications and broadcasting infrastructure throughout the country, the organization is readying for the day its inaugural satellite, Belintersat 1, goes live at 51.5 degrees east.

China Great Wall Industry Corporation began manufacturing Belintersat 1 in 2012, with the Export-Import Bank of China securing a preferential credit line for the project. The satellite is scheduled to launch during the fourth quarter of 2015 or the first quarter of 2016 from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center. After a three-month period of in-orbit testing, Belintersat 1 will begin providing telecommunications services in C and Ku band.

The satellite is designed for a 15-year lifespan with 20 C-band transponders and 18 Ku-band transponders, of which four of the Ku-band transponders are 54MHz instead of 36MHz. Now with the satellite nearly complete, Belintersat is preparing to provide telecommunications services for Belarus and international markets.

“The strategy of the new project includes the creation and support of the local telecoms market of the Republic of Belarus based on new technologies that will enable our customers to reach a much higher level of communication opportunities throughout the territory of the Republic of Belarus,” Andrey Abramov, head of the Belintersat Project told Via Satellite. “Further development of the project aims at the international market entry, followed by active commercialization of the satellite capacity, as well as TV content.”

While the Republic of Belarus has invested heavily in Belintersat, it created the project to function as a commercial entity. Abramov said the project gained direct state support because of the highly evident commercial applications and export potential it had. The company is protected by the state and provided with government guarantees.

Along with Chinese partners, Abramov said Belintersat works closely with Russia’s Iskra Design Bureau, Gilat Satellite Networks of Israel, and iDirect based in the United States. He added that establishing mutually beneficial partnerships is a top priority, as the Belintersat Project has several international markets in mind. Belintersat 1 is designed to cover Europe, the Middle East, Africa and much of Asia. Some capacity is already pre-sold and other contracts are underway.

“Today, two transponders for the market needs of the Republic of Belarus are reserved in the European beam (Ku band). On the external market, eight transponders have been sold to Chinese companies: five transponders in the African beam (C band), one in the Central African beam (Ku band) and two in the global beam (C band). As for the available satellite capacity further commercialization, it is worth taking into account current and future market needs, the pricing dynamics of the satellite resource allocation, the coordination process of satellite networks underway, etc. Now we are negotiating on the resource commercialization with global operators and providers of satellite services, which have already expressed serious interest in acquiring the capacity on our satellite,” said Abramov.

Belintersat is currently building the ground segment for the upcoming satellite communications system, which consists of a Ground Control Station (GCS) and a teleport. Abramov said construction on the main building is nearly complete, and the installation of four antennas — two 13-meter in C band, one 9-meter in Ku band, and another 11-meter in Ku band — has begun. The start of GCS operations is slated for November 2015, with the teleport to follow in March 2016.

“The main advantage of this project is the generation of profit in the course of the satellite capacity commercialization, as well as the introduction of modern high-tech solutions at the local level,” explained Abramov. “With the launch of our own satellite all the citizens of Belarus will be technically equipped to use modern communication services anywhere in the country, not only in places with the corresponding ground-based infrastructure, such as cities, large population centers, etc.”

Outside of Belarus, Abramov said the most lucrative commercial opportunities for the satellite operator are in the Middle East, Africa and Asia regions. The Belintersat project will seek to provide services such as Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) connectivity, Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting, distribution, and IP Trunking to customers based on their needs. Furthermore, after Belintersat 1, the organization hopes to build out a constellation of satellites, leveraging international partnerships to become a force in the global market.

“Later on, in view of the planned development of the partnership and targeted expansion of investment options, there are plans for the construction and launch of the second communications satellite,” he said. “The second satellite project involves close cooperation with foreign companies providing telecommunications services worldwide. Thus, the Belintersat Project is aimed at the prospect of a deployed satellite communications system.”