Eutelsat Communications today announced it is initiating a new satellite programme that will significantly expand and diversify resources at its 9° East location which addresses high-growth video markets across Europe. A high-capacity Ku-band satellite called EUTELSAT 9B, ordered from Astrium, will be launched to 9° East at the end of 2014.

Open for business since 2007, Eutelsat’s 9° East position is currently occupied by the 38-transponder EUROBIRD™ 9A satellite. Broadcasting 320 channels, of which over 10% already in HD, it is one of the Group’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods. Its close proximity to Eutelsat’s flagship HOT BIRD™ satellites at 13° East also gives satellite viewers the opportunity to increase viewing choice through a dual-feed antenna.

The deployment of the 66-transponder EUTELSAT 9B satellite will take 9° East to a new level of performance, increasing resources by over 70%. Capacity will be spread across five footprints, with frequency reuse significantly increasing overall bandwidth.

One pan-European footprint will deliver wide coverage for channels seeking maximum reach into satellite homes and to terrestrial headends (cable, ADSL, DTT …). Four focused footprints will individually address high-growth digital TV markets in Italy, Germany, Greece and the Nordic/Baltic regions. This regional footprint model will enable pay-TV platforms and national DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) programmes to efficiently address linguistic markets and in parallel leverage reception from the HOT BIRD™ neighbourhood. The regional mission for Italy has been designed in partnership with ASI (the Italian Space Agency). Its usage will be shared between ASI, for Italian institutional requirements, and Eutelsat, for video broadcasting in one of Europe’s most dynamic TV markets.

The EUTELSAT 9B satellite has also been selected by Astrium Services to host the first data relay payload for the European Data Relay Satellite System (EDRS) being implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between Astrium and ESA. The EDRS system of telecommunications satellites in geostationary orbit will allow very high data rate, bi-directional data relay communications between Low Earth Orbit Earth Observation satellites and an associated ground segment.

Commenting on the new programme, Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, said. This new satellite underscores our commitment to continue to invest in fast growing regions in our core video markets and to address new markets. We are delighted to partner with ASI, Italy’s national space agency, on building complementary resources for the Italian market which add to its selection of KA-SAT to develop broadband connectivity for public administrations. Eutelsat is also proud to be part of ESA’s flagship EDRS programme, driven by Astrium Services, to provide Europe with independent, on demand access to Earth observation data from LEO satellites in real-time.

Based on the successful Eurostar E3000 platform, EUTELSAT 9B will have a launch mass of 5,300 kg and an electrical power of 12 kW. It is the 21st satellite ordered by Eutelsat from Astrium. The share of the investment required for this programme over the next three years is included in Eutelsat's capital expenditure outlook for the period July 2011 to June 2014.