Egypt's newest communication satellite, designed and built by Thales Alenia Space on an AS Spacebus 4000 platform, was launched from France's Centre Spatial Guyanais space facility in French Guiana aboard a B2 Ariane 5 rocket. The rocket also carried a RascomStar-QAF's Rascom-QAF1R telecommunications satellite, also produced by Thales Alenia Space.
According to Egyptian Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi, the new satellite will augment Egypt's current 560 satellite channels by another 500, with the platform's broadcast footprint covering not only Egypt but the entire Middle East, southern Europe, Sudan and upstream Nile nations as well.
Thales Alenia Space Executive Vice President for Telecom activities Emmanuel Grave said, "This launch is an important milestone for the African continent as both satellites will provide Direct TV and radio broadcasting services as well as Internet access and value-added broadband services."
Starting next month, Nilesat 201 will give Egyptian satellite operator NILESAT the ability to deliver digital Direct to Home (DTH) TV, IPTV, HDTV and 3D channels, radio broadcasting and high-speed data transmission services to 40 million subscriber households in both North Africa and the Middle East. Nilesat 201 is fitted with 24 Ku-band and four Ka-band transponders and will broadcast from a geosynchronous orbit at an altitude of about 22,245 miles at 7 degrees West longitude and has a design life of 15 years. Uplink stations in Cairo, Dubai, Amman, Doha, Riyadh and Beirut will provide wide coverage.
Fiqi said: "This new satellite offers a tremendous opportunity to increase the availability on broadcasting and communications services in Egypt. We Egyptians are already proud to have one of the most diverse and vibrant media landscapes in the region, with over 500 independent newspapers, magazines and journals in the printed press alone. The Nilesat 201 will help us to bring even more choice and quality of media to the Egyptian people."