Eutelsat steps up UltraHD activity, launches 3B satellite
| 27 May 2014
In what could be a significant spurt of activity, just as it announced the successful launch of its 3B craft, leading satellite operator Eutelsat is scaling up its UltraHD offerings.

Eutelsat 3B was carried by a Zenit-3SL rocket operated by Sea Launch from the ocean-based Odyssey Launch Platform in the Pacific Ocean. After a one-hour flight, the six-tonne satellite was released into geosynchronous transfer orbit on its way to the 3° East neighbourhood.

Said to be the first commercial satellite to assemble Ku-, C- and Ka-band payloads in a single platform, Eutelsat 3B will operate up to 51 transponders providing expansion capacity for data, telecom and video markets in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Brazil. The craft will replace the Eutelsat 3D satellite that will subsequently be co-positioned with Eutelsat 7A at 7° East.

The expansion of the company's 4K/UltraHD services comes with the launch of what is claimed to be Europe's first demo channel encoded in HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) and broadcasting at 50 frames per second with 10-bit colour depth. The new channel has been launched at Eutelsat's HOT BIRD video neighbourhood which provides DTH reach in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The channel is also said to be the first that can be received direct by consumers using the latest 4KTV panels equipped with DVB-S2 demodulators and HEVC decoders. 
The Ultra HD content, encoded by ATEME, was co-produced by Wahoo Production and Château de Versailles Spectacles with the participation of France Télévisions.

"The launch of this new channel is another milestone taking us closer towards the commercial roll-out of 4KTV channels that will propel broadcasting into a new era," said Michel Chabrol, Eutelsat's director of marketing innovation and digital cinema. "Immense progress has been made with partners in the broadcasting chain since the launch in January 2013 of the first demonstration UltraHD channel on a Eutelsat satellite. HEVC encoding combined with 50 frames per second are the next step the industry has been waiting for."