Astra 2F satellite within weeks of entering commercial service

SATELLITE UPDATE  The next satellite to serve the UK and Ireland will be going live within weeks, according to its operator.

SES, which operates the Astra 2 fleet of satellites at 28.2 degrees East confirmed that its new Astra 2F satellite had launched without a glitch and testing had been completed successfully.

It's now being moved from its test orbital position to join the other Astra 2 satellites and will, according to SES, provide "Ku-band capacity for UK / Ireland [Direct to Home reception] as well as for pan-European services and for Sub-Saharan Africa. Its Ka-band payload will allow SES Broadband Services to support download speeds of up to 20 Mbps."

It is expected to enter commercial service later this month - so within the next 19 days. Unverified reports suggest that the first transponder changes will take place around the 23rd.

In essence, Astra 2F will have a spot beam aimed at the British Isles - testing of this spotbeam took place in recent weeks over the Eastern Mediterranean - replacing Astra 1N, which has been temporarily providing the UK and Ireland's broadcasters with UK spot beam capacity following the decommissioning of Astra 2D for the purpose. Services that are currently part of the Sky and/or Freesat offering are expected to soon begin transferring across to the new satellite.

Astra 2F will also have a widebeam covering Europe; a spotbeam aimed at Western (Sub-Saharan) Africa and a beam delivering internet services to France.

SES also firmed up on its intention to use frequencies currently used by Eutelsat 28A for its next satellites at 28.2 degrees East - Astra 2E and 2G from 4th October 2013, stating it would "vigorously defend its right to use these frequencies" that it acquired from Media Broadcast. Eutelsat states it was given indefinite use of the frequencies by Deutsche Telekom in 1999 and is seeking arbitration on the matter.

Astra 1N will, in time, be moved to 19.2 degrees East to serve continental Europe. It's "UK spot beam" is actually its main beam centered on the UK, with much of its beam aimed over open waters of the Atlantic, whereas over at 19.2 degrees East the beam will be centered further south and east on countries such as France, Switzerland and Germany.


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