SA will get its own communications satellite dedicated to the 2010 soccer World Cup. The satellite, from international communication satellite operator Intelsat, will be used exclusively for carrying the high-definition broadcast signals from the event to the rest of the world.
State-owned broadcast signal distributor Sentech, which has constructed a satellite uplink facility in Johannesburg to carry the signals for the soccer spectacular, has commissioned the satellite, the IS-706, for the event.
Like other Intelsat satellites, IS-706 has a geosynchronous orbit, which is the highest orbital location. Launched in 1995 on an Ariane rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in South America, it weighs 1 450kg.
Flavien Bachabi, regional vice-president for Africa at Intelsat, says the company has been involved in World Cup events since the 1960s. It has provided dedicated satellites for previous World Cup events and for the Olympic Games.
“We have been working with Sentech to provide all the transmission, especially between the stadium and the International Broadcasting Centre,” Bachabi says.
“We provide raw capacity to Sentech and have also been working with some of the major international broadcasters to provide them with the capacity to be able to rebroadcast the games in their countries.”
The IS-706, which is used for a range of services, including providing telephony and Internet access, has been freed up entirely so that it’s dedicated to World Cup games. “We have already positioned it and it’s ready to face any capacity requirements. This is an exercise we can do easily since we have 55 satellites in orbit, half of them serving Africa.”
Some broadcasters will take signals from SA via undersea cables like Sat-3, and others have elected to receive their broadcasts via satellite, Bachabi says. The satellite will also serve as backup to the 20Gbit/s of fibre capacity that Telkom has installed at stadia around SA. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral