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March 09, 2011

Intelsat Reschedules New Dawn Satellite Launch to March 30

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Intelsat announced a one-day pushback for the launch of its New Dawn satellite, moving the target date to March 30, 2011. Countdown for the launch started on Feb. 16, via press release, but the latest updates came via Intelsat's Twitter account.

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It's only a minor pause for Intelsat New Dawn, billed as the "first ever" African private sector communications satellite. Built by Orbital Sciences (News - Alert) Corporation and to be put into space by an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, New Dawn has a combination of 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponders designed to supply communications infrastructure for African countries.   The satellite will operate from a geostationary slot at 32.8 degrees East, delivering wireless backhaul, broadband and media content.

Delivered on time and within a $250 million dollar budget, New Dawn has been funded at around 90 percent from African sources, lead by Convergence (News - Alert) Partners and Intelsat.   Customers who have contracted for capacity on the satellite include Vodacom, Gateway Communications Africa (UK), Bharti Airtel (News - Alert), and Gilat Satcom.

Based in South Africa, Convergence Partners is an investment company focused on the telecommunications, media, and technology sector in Africa. As a major part of its strategy, the firm focuses on greenfield projects that improve access to communication, broadband services and technology offerings throughout Africa, improving the standards of living as those projects grow and thrive. Convergence has invested in Vodacom (News - Alert) (wireless), Seacom and Fiberco (fiber optic projects), and a number of software and channel partners working in Africa.

New Dawn won't be alone in the skies over Africa. Intelsat boasts it has 22 different satellites delivering services to the area, and satellite operator O3b Networks is aiming to take to the skies in the first half of 2013 with a constellation of Ka-band satellites in medium earth orbit to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband service to underserved regions. O3b will put up eight satellites in 2013 and expected to raise funding to build and launch another 16 satellites for the full project.

Many companies are investing in Africa as the "next big thing." IBM (News - Alert) and France Telecom strongly believe in the potential for telecommunications and IT group in the region and are establishing partnerships and investments to expand their operations.  There's also a lot of new fiber projects being turned up on the continent, but the challenge is to provide connectivity for wireless backhaul and broadband to the fiber -- which is where satellite backhaul is expected to play a role.


Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf