Eutelsat and Arabsat resolve dispute
By Chris Forrester

The long-running dispute between Eutelsat and Arabsat over the 25.5/26 degrees East orbital slot is on its way to being resolved. The argument has drawn in Qatar and largely revolves around frequencies claimed by Iran over its Zohreh-2 (non-existent) satellite. A decision has been pressing for some years, and made all the more dramatic by the upcoming launch of a Eutelsat/Es’Hail joint-venture satellite this summer.

Currently, under a controversial ITU decision, Iran is permitted to retain its regulatory filing for the Zohreh-2 craft. This latest outline agreement makes no mention of Iran’s claim which will no doubt lead to fireworks from Tehran.

The compromise agreement has been described by Eutelsat as not perfect, but allowing both parties to get on with business with a dependable structure. Arabsat’s CEO Khalid Balkheyour, said: “We recognize that the whole business is a compromise, and that there can be no outright winners in such a position, and we might be considered to be unhappy, as they will be unhappy, but at least we can live together and work with the transponders which are available.”

Settling this dispute means that Eutelsat has now wrapped up two out of its three major legal problems. The first was in the form of its Deutsche Telekom arbitration over the disputed 28.2/28.5 position, announced last month, and now this Arabsat problem.

All that remains is for it to resolve the complex dispute with SES over rights to the 28.2/28.5 degrees East position, which is before an arbitration tribunal in Paris.