Settlement in SES-Eutelsat 28 degree dispute

January 30, 2014 07.55 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Astra DINO RoomSES and Eutelsat have concluded a series of agreements that brings to an end the long running legal dispute over the right to operate at 28.5 degrees East.

The first agreement ends the arbitration between Eutelsat and SES that was initiated in October 2012 under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris. The dispute concerned a right of use of 500 MHz spectrum at the 28.5 degrees East orbital position predominantly serving the UK market.

In a second agreement Eutelsat will lease eight 125MHz transponders on capacity within the disputed 500 MHz segment. A further 250 MHz (12 transponders) not previously involved in legal proceedings will also be commercialised by Eutelsat. The 20 transponders will be run on Astra 2F, Astra 2E and Astra 2G, the latter slated for launch later this year.

The frequencies are those that continued to be operated under a French filing by Eutelsat’s Eurobird 28A, when SES took over the disputed German frequencies in October 2013.

The third agreement between the two companies addresses technical frequency coordination under the rules of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It will allow both parties an optimised use of their respective spectrum at a number of orbital positions over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The agreement is designed to confirm and clarify in technical terms the geographic coverage and transmission power levels for frequencies at these positions.

“The agreements with Eutelsat create a secure framework for operations in major broadcasting and data markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa”, said Romain Bausch, President and CEO of SES. “They are beneficial for our whole industry and, above all, for our customers and end users as they experience optimal satellite services. The agreements allow SES to fully leverage its satellite and fleet investments and operate its assets and frequency spectrum efficiently. We can focus on further commercialising our satellite capacity and ensuring excellent services for customers and users worldwide.”

Michel de Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Eutelsat, said: “Guided by key objectives to deliver clients impeccable service and to optimise spectrum use, Eutelsat and SES have taken a pragmatic and business-like approach to reaching this settlement. These long-term agreements clarify the conditions for interference-free operations, enabling each company to independently expand its commercial activity in a competitive environment. Eutelsat is committed to delivering innovative services at one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the broadcasting market and can now further improve the productivity of its in-orbit resources and future investments.”

The frequency dispute surrounded the German orbital frequencies at 28.5 degrees East, assigned to SES under a 2005 agreement with German media services provider Media Broadcast, the TDF-owned business that acquired Telekom’s T-Services division. Media Broadcast holds the licence for the frequencies issued by the Bundesnetzagentur under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).